Oklahoma State Senate bill takes page from Canada on drug prices

Oklahoma Politics
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma State Senator is taking aim at high prescription drug prices. He says his new bill would save Oklahomans millions. The author of Senate Bill 734 says it will reduce prices by an average of about 200 percent on the drugs that Oklahomans use the most.

“A drug that sells for $2,500 in Oklahoma cost $560 in Canada,” said Sen. Greg McCortney.

The Republican from Ada says that is really the impetus for this bill that he says could save the average Oklahoman over $250 a year in insurance premiums.

McCortney says currently in Canada, each province is able to negotiate and set a price for each drug with manufacturers.. He wants Oklahoma to do the same for over 250 medications like those for high blood pressure and diabetes.

“We know that you will sell your drug at $10, so, we are not going to pay more than $10,” said McCortney.

The pharmaceutical industry is pushing back, saying in a statement, it will hurt research development of new drugs.

“This proposal would import price controls from a country that restricts access to innovative medicines. These policies could result in delays for patients trying to access their medicines, fewer treatments and cures in the future and weaker U.S. leadership in biopharmaceutical innovation. Deferring decisions about what medicines are worth and what diseases are worth investing in now and in the future to foreign politicians is the wrong approach. Now more than ever, we need to support solutions that deliver real savings for Oklahomans at the pharmacy counter without sacrificing innovation.”

SARAH SUTTON, PhRMA, SENIOR MANAGER, PUBLIC AFFAIRS

But others think it’s a good move, especially for Oklahoma’s seniors that they say are on average taking over four prescription drugs at a time.

“Very expensive for our members. A lot of them are having to choose between groceries, paying utilities and paying their medicine,” said Chad Mullen.

The spokesperson for AARP Oklahoma says with drug prices going up on average 50 percent a year, it’s time for action.

“We know that companies in Canada are able to negotiate prices, and they find a reasonable price to sell their product, and we think you can do the same thing right here in Oklahoma,” said Mullen.

The bill passed easily through committee on Monday. It now moves on for debate on the Senate floor.

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