Reining in Prescription Drug Costs

One of the most important lessons from the pandemic is the need to prioritize reliable prescription drug manufacturing. California, especially this region, has long been a center for medical research, and one of our top priorities should be to encourage more drug research, innovations, and manufacturing, especially for generic drugs. That’s why I support Senate Bill 852.

While the main benefit of SB 852 will be to make medication available for thousands of Californians at a more reasonable cost, as we emerge from the pandemic-induced recession we can also create thousands of new jobs to help restore the world’s fifth-largest economy.

SB 852 requires the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA) to enter into partnerships with drug manufacturers and other agencies to provide medication, including insulin, at lower costs. As we all know, the high cost of prescription drugs is one of the drivers of rising health care premiums – and lowering these costs should be a top priority.

SB 852 will encourage production of generic, lower cost prescription drugs. The bill prioritizes drugs that have the greatest impact on drug pricing, to increase competition among manufacturers and help address market shortages, with high-cost drugs for chronic conditions prioritized.  Chronic conditions have long been a high cost driver in the healthcare industry and I have worked hard to gain recognition for the barriers and battles that chronic care patients have had to endure to attain access to critical treatments.  Reports on data and accountability will be due to the Legislature over the next three years on the program’s success in reducing costs and improving public access to the targeted drugs.

This type of public/private partnership for drug manufacturing is not new. California has been manufacturing the only treatment for infant botulism since 2003, and the states of Massachusetts and Michigan have been teaming up with private drug manufacturers for many years.

SB 852 was signed into law on September 28th.  More jobs, lower drug costs and improved public health are on the way.