GOP lawmaker restarts Nevada bid for insulin price controls | NevadaAppeal.com

GOP lawmaker restarts Nevada bid for insulin price controls

Alison Noon
Associated Press
FILE - In this April 26, 2016 file photo, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson participates in a Republican debate for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District in Henderson, Nev. A Nevada legislative leader is reviving an attempt to impose price controls on insulin, with a proposal to rein in prescription drug market middlemen. Republican Sen. Michael Roberson released legislation Monday, May 15, 2017, that would require pharmacy benefit managers to pass on to insurance companies at least 80 percent of their favorable insulin rates. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
AP | AP

A Republican legislative leader Monday revived an attempt to impose price controls on insulin, with a proposal aimed at reining in prescription drug market middlemen.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson released legislation that goes further than a Democratic effort to tackle the increasing insulin costs faced by people with diabetes — an issue Democrats and Republicans call a public health crisis.

His bill would require pharmacy benefit managers to pass on to insurance companies at least 80 percent of their discounts on insulin.

The bill aims to ultimately lower patient costs.

Insurers contract with benefit managers to develop drug formularies and negotiate favorable rates with prescription drug manufacturers.

“I am confident, if we ensure that more of those rebates get to the insurance providers, that those rebates will be reflected in the price — the premium and the deductibles — that Nevada consumers pay,” Roberson said.

Under the proposal, the middlemen would have to disclose insulin rebates they get from drugmakers and the rates they charge insurers for the same products.

“We do not know today how much they get in rebates and how much of those rebates they put in their own pocket,” he said.

They would also be outlawed from using what Roberson calls a “gag rule” that benefit managers impose on pharmacies to keep them from telling patients about alternative or less-expensive prescriptions.

The bill also would require pharmaceutical companies to publicly justify any insulin price hikes greater than annual inflation, taking a cue from a similar law passed last year in Vermont.

Roberson’s bill responds to an insulin-price transparency measure from Democrats, who control the Legislature.

The Democratic bill initially sought to mandate that drugmakers refund insurance companies and patients for insulin price increases greater than inflation, but bill sponsor Sen. Yvanna Cancela deleted that provision after legislative attorneys questioned its legality.

Roberson says the same attorneys have made no such warnings about his measure.

Cancela has previously said she is interested in pursuing other means of controlling insulin costs. She was not immediately available to comment Monday.