Removing wasteful drugs from formularies and replacing them with drugs that offer the same benefits at a lower cost, helps state employee health plans and other public purchasers reduce spending without sacrificing value – a critical strategy for savings as states face tremendous budget pressures.
This report summarizes what states are learning from reporting required by prescription drug price transparency laws, which include reports on data submitted by health insurers, manufacturers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The review period includes reports published by states through August 2019. The National Academy for State Health Policy’s Center for State Rx Drug Pricing, with support from Arnold Ventures, commissioned this analysis from experts affiliated with Mathematica.
This report summarizes what states are learning from reporting required by prescription drug price transparency laws, including reports on data submitted by health insurers, manufacturers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The review period includes reports published by states through August 2019.
Costliest Drugs across States
Five states — California, Nevada, Maine, Oregon and Vermont — have published reports identifying specific drugs that are high cost, for which costs are rising fastest, and/or that are most frequently prescribed. In Nevada, these drugs include only those related to the treatment of diabetes. California, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont reported up to 126 prescription drugs across therapeutic uses. These states reported many of the same drugs—including five drugs used for treatment of diabetes and four drugs used for treatment of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Impact on Premiums
California, Vermont, and Oregon have reported impacts of retail prescription drug costs on insurance premiums, averaging 13 percent in California (before accounting for manufacturer rebates, which averaged 10.1 percent of insurers’ retail drug costs) in 2017, 15.67 percent of premiums in Vermont in 2018 (before accounting for rebates), and up to 18 percent of premiums in Oregon (after accounting for rebates) in 2018.
Manufacturer and PBM Reporting
Requiring both manufacturers and PBMs to report allows states to track drug pricing along the supply chain. As of August 2019, only Nevada had publicly reported information about manufacturer and PBM costs, focused on essential diabetes drugs. Nevada’s report indicates that:
- Production costs accounted for 29 percent of manufacturers’ estimated average revenue in 2018 for essential diabetes drugs after rebates. Administrative costs and profit each accounted for 25 percent. On average, manufacturers earned $42 in profits for every $100 spent on production and administrative cost for these drugs.
- Financial assistance to consumers accounted for 14 percent of the manufacturers’ estimated total revenues after rebates, although most manufacturers reported offering no financial assistance.
- Most of the rebates that PBMs in Nevada negotiated nationally for essential diabetes drugs were on behalf of private insurers and self-insured employer plans. PBMs retained 6.6 percent of all rebates, whether negotiated on behalf of private third parties or Medicaid.
The information these states have made public suggests some early lessons:
- States share concerns about the affordability of many of the same drugs. There may be substantial value in sharing information across states with similar confidentiality protections while reducing the burden of redundant reporting to multiple states.
- Understanding pricing across the entire supply chain, from the manufacturer to the consumer, is critical. Reporting that uses consistent concepts and measures can foster mutual understanding of facts among policymakers and stakeholders in a complex system.
- The agency responsible for obtaining data must have the authority and resources to follow up when the data are not complete or credible, if drug transparency laws are to help states develop a fair approach to ensuring that prescription drugs are affordable.
This report summarizes what states are learning from reporting required by prescription drug price transparency laws, including data reported by health insurers, manufacturers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Since 2017, nine states have enacted drug price transparency legislation that requires such reporting.
Five of these states — California, Nevada, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont — have published reports identifying specific drugs that are high cost (defined by total spending), for which costs are rising fastest (defined as year over year increase), and/or that are most frequently prescribed (so represent high consumer exposure). In Nevada, these drugs include only those related to treatment of diabetes. California, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont included prescription drugs across all therapeutic classes. In Section 1, we present the drugs of interest that these states reported and look, in particular, at the 30 drugs of interest reported by at least three of these states.
In Section 2, we describe the impact of drug prices on health insurance premiums, as reported by three states, California, Oregon, and Vermont. These states have published the dollar amounts and/or the percentage of premiums attributed to retail prescription drugs — in California and Vermont, before manufacturer and other rebates and price discounts to insurers; and in Oregon, after rebates and price discounts.
In Section 3, we describe what Nevada is learning from the reporting required of manufacturers and PBMs. Currently, eight states have enacted laws requiring PBMs to report rebate amounts either for specific drugs or in the aggregate. These laws have taken effect in four states (Connecticut, Nevada, Texas, and Washington) as part of each state’s drug pricing transparency effort, but as of August 2019, only Nevada (for specified essential diabetes drugs) had made summary information public.
Reporting of High-Cost, High Cost-Growth, and Most Prescribed Drugs
California, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont have reported drugs that account for high total cost or high cost growth, or because they are frequently prescribed, represent high consumer exposure. Maine derived its lists from analysis of the state’s all-payer claims database (APCD) system; California and Oregon relied on insurer reporting under special statutory authority; and Vermont relied on both insurer and Medicaid reporting. Nevada derived it list of drugs from analysis of a purchased database.
Table 1 lists the number of unique drug names reported in each state. California and Vermont reported the most extensive list of drugs: each reported on more than 120 unique drug names; Nevada, Maine, and Oregon each reported on approximately 50 unique drug names.
Table 1. Number of drugs listed in state public reports, by state
|Reporting state||Reference period||Number of unique drug names reported*|
*The number of unique drugs was developed by merging separate lists of drugs, if the state reported separate lists by reason for reporting and/or by insurer.
Source: Mathematica analysis of data reported in these reports: California Department of Managed Health Care (2018); Maine Health Data Organization (2018); Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (2018b); Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (2019); and State of Vermont Green Mountain Care Board (2019). See full references at the end of this report.
We matched drugs reported across these states by National Drug Code (NDC) and identified 128 unique NDCs that at least two states selected in common (shown in Appendix 1). The 30 drugs that at least three states selected in common are shown in Table 2.
These 30 drugs span multiple therapeutic classes, but several have similar therapeutic uses. Eight of the drugs are used for treatment of diabetes myelitis — including five drugs, Lantus Solostar, Novolog, Januvia, Metformin, and Victoza, which four of the five states reported in common.
At least three of the four states that did not focus only on essential diabetes drugs — California, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont — selected in common a number of additional drugs that clustered around treatment for asthma (Fluticasone Prop, Ventolin, Proair, and Symbicort); depression (Bupropion Hcl and Sertraline); hepatitis C (Harvoni and Epclusa); multiple sclerosis (Copaxone and Tecfidera); psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and/or rheumatoid arthritis (Stelara, Cosentyx, Enbrel, Humira Syringe, and Humira Pen); and a range of cardiovascular concerns (Eliquis, Xarelto, Hydrochlorothiazide, Atorvastatin).
Table 2. Drugs reported by three or more states, 2017-2018 (in alphabetic order of primary therapeutic use)
|NDC||Drug name||States||Therapeutic class||Primary therapeutic use||Reasons for reporting|
|00054327099||Fluticasone Prop||CA, ME, VT||Respiratory tract agents||Treatment of allergic and non-allergic nasal symptoms; long term management of asthma, COPD||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, VT)|
|00173068220||Ventolin||CA, ME, OR, VT||Autonomic drugs; respiratory tract agents||Treatment of asthma, acute bronchitis||Most costly (CA); highest cost increase (CA); most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, OR, VT)|
|59310057922||Proair||CA, ME, OR, VT||Beta-Adrenergic agents||Treatment of asthma, acute bronchitis||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, OR, VT)|
|00186037020||Symbicort||CA, ME, VT||Antiasthmatic and bronchodilator agents||Treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)||Most frequently prescribed (ME); most costly (ME, CA); highest price (VT)|
|00003089421||Eliquis||CA, ME, OR||Blood formation, coagulation, and thrombosis agents||Prevention of blood clots/stroke in people with atrial fibrillation.||Most frequently prescribed (ME); highest price increase (CA, ME); most costly (CA, ME)|
|50458057930||Xarelto||CA, ME, VT||Anticoagulants, coumarin type||Treatment/prevention of blood clots||Most costly (CA, ME); highest cost increase (CA, ME, VT)|
|50111078751||Azithromycin||CA, ME, OR||Antibacterials||Treatment of bronchitis; pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases, and infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive organs.||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, VT)|
|45963014205||Bupropion Hcl||CA, VT, OR||Antidepressants||Treatment of depression||Most frequently prescribed (VT); most costly (CA); highest price increase (CA)|
|68180035302||Sertraline||CA, ME, OR, VT||Antidepressants||Treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, OR, VT)|
|00002771559||Basaglar (Kwikpen)||ME, NV, OR||Hormones and synthetic substitutes||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 1 and 2||Highest price increase (ME, NV)|
|00002879959||Humalog (Kwikpen)||ME, NV, OR||Hormones and synthetic substitutes||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 1||Most costly (CA, ME); highest price increase (CA, ME, NV); most frequently prescribed (CA)|
|00002751001||Humalog||CA, ME, NV, OR||Hormones and synthetic substitutes||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 1||Most costly (CA, ME, OR); most frequently prescribed (CA); highest price increase (CA, ME, NV)|
|00088221905||Lantus Solostar||CA, ME, NV, VT||Hormones and synthetic substitutes||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 1 and 2||Most costly (CA, ME); highest price (VT); Most commonly prescribed (ME, VT); highest cost increase (NV)|
|00169633910||Novolog||NV, ME, OR, VT||Hormones and synthetic substitutes||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 1 and 2||Most costly (ME); highest price (OR, VT); highest cost increase (NV); most frequently prescribed (CA)|
|00006027731||Januvia||CA, ME, NV, VT||Blood glucose regulators||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 2||Most costly (CA, ME); highest cost increase (CA, ME, VT); most commonly prescribed (CA)|
|Multiple NDCs||Metformin||CA, NV, OR, VT||Blood glucose regulators||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 2||Most frequently prescribed (CA, OR); highest cost increase (NV, VT); most costly (CA)|
|00169406013||Victoza||CA. ME, NV, VT||Hormones and synthetic substitutes||Treatment of diabetes myelitis type 2||Most costly (CA, ME); highest cost increase (CA, NV); most frequently prescribed (CA); highest price (VT)|
|61958180101||Harvoni||CA, ME, VT||Anti-infective agents||Treatment of hepatitis C||Most costly (CA, ME); highest cost increase (CA); highest price (VT)|
|61958220101||Epclusa||CA, ME, OR, VT||Antivirals||Treatment of hepatitis C||Most costly (CA, ME); highest price (OR, VT); highest cost increase (CA)|
|16729018317||Hydrochlorothiazide||CA, ME, OR, VT||Diuretics||Treatment of high blood pressure, edema, kidney stones||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, OR, VT)|
|60505258009||Atorvastatin||CA, ME, OR, VT||Antihyperlipidemics||Treatment of high cholesterol and triglyceride levels||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, OR, VT); most costly (CA); highest cost increase (CA)|
|61958200201||Descovy||CA, ME, VT||Antivirals||Treatment of HIV-1||Most costly (CA); highest cost increase (CA, ME, VT); most frequently prescribed (CA)|
|68546032512||Copaxone||CA, ME, OR, VT||Miscellaneous therapeutic agents||Treatment of multiple sclerosis||Most costly (CA, ME); highest cost increase (CA); highest price (OR, VT)|
|64406000602||Tecfidera||CA, ME, OR, VT||Psychotherapeutic and neurological agents – misc.||Treatment of multiple sclerosis||Most costly (CA, ME, OR); highest cost increase (CA); highest price (VT)|
|57894006103||Stelara||CA, ME, VT||Immunological agents||Treatment of plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis||Most costly (CA, ME); highest cost increase (CA, ME, VT); highest price (VT); most frequently prescribed (OR)|
|Multiple NDCs||Cosentyx||CA, ME, OR, VT||Immunological agents||Treatment of plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis||Highest price (VT); most costly (CA); highest cost increase (CA, ME, OR); most frequently prescribed (OR)|
|58406044504||Enbrel||CA, ME, OR, VT||Miscellaneous therapeutic agents||Treatment of plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis||Most costly (ME, CA); highest cost increase (CA, OR, VT); most frequently prescribed (CA, OR); highest cost (VT)|
|00074379902||Humira (Syringe)||CA, ME, OR, VT||Gastrointestinal drugs; miscellaneous therapeutic agents||Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis||Most costly (CA, ME, OR); highest price (VT); highest cost increase (CA, OR, VT); most frequently prescribed (CA)|
|00074433902||Humira (Pen)||CA, ME, OR, VT||Gastrointestinal drugs; miscellaneous therapeutic agents||Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis||Most costly (CA, ME, OR); highest price (VT); highest cost increase (CA, OR, VT); most frequently prescribed (CA)|
|69097081412||Gabapentin||CA, ME, OR, VT||Anticonvulsants||Treatment/prevention of seizures, pain||Most frequently prescribed (CA, ME, OR, VT); highest expenditure (CA)|
Source: Mathematica analysis of drug website data and data reported in: California Department of Managed Health Care (2018); Maine Health Data Organization (2018); Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (2018b); Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (2019); and State of Vermont Green Mountain Care Board (2019).
Impact on Insurance Premiums
Three states — California, Oregon, and Vermont — have reported impacts of rising drug prices on insurance premiums. California reported that insurer payments for retail prescription drugs totaled $8.7 billion in 2017, accounting for 13.1 percent of health plan premiums that year. Specialty drugs accounted for a small minority of prescriptions (1.6 percent), but more than half (51.5 percent) of all insurer spending on retail prescription drugs.
Manufacturer rebates and consumer cost sharing lessened the impact of retail prescription drugs on premiums in California, compared to what it might otherwise have been. Manufacturer rebates to insurers equaled about 10.5 percent ($915 million) of the $8.7 billion insurers spent on retail prescription drugs. Among the 25 most frequently prescribed drugs (representing 42.8 percent of total spending on retail prescription drugs), health plan enrollees paid approximately 3 percent of the cost overall — ranging from 2.9 percent of the cost of specialty drugs to 56.6 percent of the cost of generics. Enrollees paid about 8.8 percent of the cost of the 25 most costly drugs (91.2 percent of total spending on retail prescription drugs) reported by insurers.
Vermont  reported that prescription drugs accounted for 15.67 percent of premium rates in 2018 (before accounting for manufacturer rebates and other price concessions). Expressed as a per member per month (PMPM) amount, that averaged $81.65 PMPM in 2018. Vermont also identified the three drugs contributing the most to premiums: Humira Pen, Harvoni, and Enbrel Sureclick. Specialty drugs as a category contributed most to premium increases, compared with generic or brand name drugs.
Oregon reported the impact of prescription drugs on premium rates PMPM in 2018 after accounting for manufacturer rebates or other price concessions to insurers. Insurers reported impacts that ranged from a low of 2.5 percent of premiums ($13 PMPM, or about $154 per member annually, for one insurer’s small-group plans) to 18 percent of premiums (about $85 PMPM, or more than or $1,000 per member annually, for two insurers’ small group plans, respectively. At the median, prescription drugs accounted for 11.9 percent of the premiums — nearly $53 PMPM in 2018, or about $635 annually.
Manufacturer and PBM Reporting
At present, five states — Nevada, Connecticut, Maine, Texas, and Washington — have enacted laws that require both manufacturers and PBMs to report annually. Manufacturers are required to report information on specified drugs. PBMs are required to report information about the rebates they have obtained from manufacturers — either in the aggregate (for all drugs) or for specified drugs. Requiring both manufacturers and PBMs to report offers the potential for states to track pricing along the supply chain for drugs of interest, if the state aligns the level of information that each must report.
The drug cost transparency reporting requirements in these states are shown in Table 3. Washington will require PBMs to report information for each covered drug—a provision that will enable the Washington Health Care Authority to track prices across the supply chain for each drug. Nevada requests PBM reporting on essential diabetes drugs (collectively), as specifically identified by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Connecticut and Texas will require PBMs to report aggregate rebates obtained across all drugs from pharmaceutical manufacturers. In Maine, the Maine Health Data Organization will adopt rules specifying the data elements to be reported.
Table 3. States that require reporting by both manufacturers and PBMs*
|State||Manufacturers must report:**||PBMs must report:|
|Connecticut||· Total company level research and development costs for the most recent year||· The aggregate dollar amount for all rebates concerning drug formularies that PBM collected from pharmaceutical manufacturers, Including those that manufactured outpatient prescription drugs covered by the health carriers and are attributable to patient utilization of such drugs under the health care plan
· The aggregate dollar amount of all rebates excluding rebates received by health carriers
|Nevada||· Total administrative expenditures (including marketing and advertising costs)
· Profit earned and percentage of total profit attributable to the drug
· Total amount of financial assistance provided through patient assistance
· Cost associated with coupons
· Wholesale acquisition cost
· History of any increase over the 5 years including percentage increase, date of increase, and explanation
· Aggregate amount of all rebates provided to PBM’s
|· Total (aggregate) amount of rebates negotiated with manufacturers during the previous year
· Total amount of rebates retained by the PBM
· Total amount of rebates negotiated for purchases of drugs for use by Medicare and Medicaid recipients, and persons covered by third parties that are or are not governmental entities
|Texas||· Total company level research and development costs for the previous calendar year||· Aggregated rebates, fees, price concessions, and other payments from manufacturers
· Aggregated dollar amount of rebates, fees, price concessions from manufacturers that were (a) passed to insurers, (b) passed to enrollees at point of sale; and (c) retained by the PBM
|Washington||· Annual manufacturing costs
· Annual marketing and advertising costs
· Total research and development costs
· Total costs of clinical trials and regulation
· Total costs for acquisition of the drug
· Total financial assistance given by the manufacturer through assistance programs, rebates, and coupons
|· All discounts (total dollar amount and percentage discount) and all rebates received from manufacturers for each drug on the PBM’s formularies
· Total dollar amount of discounts and rebates that are retained by the PBM for each drug
· Actual total reimbursement amounts for each drug the PBM pays retail pharmacies after all fees
· Negotiated price health plan pays PBM for each drug
· Amount, terms, and conditions relating to copayments, reimbursement policies, etc.
· Disclosure of any ownership interest the PBM has in a pharmacy or health plan with which it conducts business
Sources: Connecticut HB 5384/Public Act 18-41(2018); Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (2018a); Texas HB 2536 (2019); and Washington HB 1224, Chapter 334 (2019).
* Maine also requires reporting from manufacturers and PBMs. The Maine Health Data Organization will adopt rules specifying the data elements to be reported.
** In addition to the items indicated, each state requires manufacturers to report reasons for price increases, if any.
As of August 2019, Nevada was the only state that had publicly reported information about manufacturer costs and the role of PBMs in the final cost of drugs to consumers that are privately insured or enrolled in Medicare or Medicare. Together with manufacturer reporting, reporting by PBMs offers a reasonably complete (if aggregated) picture of factors that contribute to essential diabetes drug costs in Nevada.
Nevada asks both manufacturers and PBMs to report pricing information for essential diabetes drugs in the aggregate and, in general, at the national level. Manufacturers report only one item specific to Nevada: rebates paid to PBMs for essential diabetes drugs in Nevada.
A summary of the information reported by manufacturers and PBMs, as shown in Nevada’s public report, is shown in Table 4. Because Nevada reported PBM-negotiated rebates for essential diabetes drugs ($1.9 billion) at the aggregate national level and manufacturer rebates only in Nevada and as the average aggregated across manufacturers, they cannot be compared. Such discrepancies make it impossible to track the supply chain for these drugs nationally or in Nevada. Nevertheless, some insights can be drawn within the information reported by manufacturers and PBMs, respectively.
Table 4. Summary of data reported by manufacturers and PBMs in Nevada for essential diabetes drugs
|Average amount per manufacturer (simple averages)||Percent of estimated average manufacturer revenue after rebates|
|Manufacturer-reported data for essential diabetes drugs|
|Estimated total revenue after rebates (national)*||$204,353,658||100.0 percent|
|Production cost||$58,934,388||28.8 percent|
|Administrative expenses||$65,548,748||32.1 percent|
|Cost of consumer financial assistance||$27,890,892||13.6 percent|
|Total provided through any patient prescription assistance program||$12,874,326||6.3 percent|
|Consumer coupons and consumer copayment assistance programs||$14,036,828||6.9 percent|
|Manufacturer cost of redeeming coupons and use of consumer copayment assistance programs||$979,738||0.5 percent|
|Aggregate rebates to PBMs in Nevada||$3,039,646||1.5 percent|
|Total amount (all PBMs)||Percent of PBMs’ total negotiated rebates|
|PBM-reported data for essential diabetes drugs (Nevada only):|
|Total rebates negotiated with manufacturers||$1,922,857,158||100.0 percent|
|Total rebates negotiated for persons covered by|
|3rd party governmental entities, not Medicare or Medicaid||$597,759,023||31.1 percent|
|3rd parties that are not governmental entities (potentially including self-insured employer plans)||$1,293,449,196||67.3 percent|
|Total rebates retained by the PBM||$126,754,864||6.6 percent|
Source: S. Jones, et al. (2019), Tables 4, 5 and 6.
*Calculated as the sum of all shown manufacturer-reported amounts excluding aggregate rebates to PBMs in Nevada.
- Manufacturer cost, profit, and consumer assistance
In 2018, average manufacturer costs and profits for essential diabetes drugs, reported at the national level, totaled nearly $204.4 million (Figure 1). Drug production costs accounted for just 29 percent of the total ($58.9 million).
Figure 1. Reported profits and production and administrative costs for essential diabetes drugs (Nevada)
Source: S. Jones, et al. (2019), Tables 4 and 5.
Manufacturers’ administrative expenditures, which may include executive compensation, accounting and legal fees, marketing, advertising, and other administrative expenses as each manufacturer deems reasonable, accounted for $65.5 million. This amount exceeded their reported average production costs (although the Nevada report indicates multiple drug manufacturers reported $0 for total administrative expenditures, and likely included all their costs for manufacturing the drug in the drug production costs).
Manufacturers reported average profits (nearly $52.0 million) — equal to 25.4 percent of the sum of production cost, administrative cost, consumer assistance, and profit — or 41.8 percent of total production and administrative cost. That is, aggregated across reporting manufacturers, manufacturers of essential diabetes drugs earned $42 in profits for every $100 they spent on production and administrative cost.
Nationally, financial assistance to consumers accounted for an estimated 13.6 percent ($27.9 million) of manufacturers’ estimated average total revenues after rebates for essential diabetes drugs. This financial assistance included patient prescription programs, coupons, or copayment assistance programs. However, more than half of the reporting manufacturers indicated that they provided no financial assistance through patient prescription assistance programs (58 percent), and also provided no rebates to PBMs or pharmacies (55 percent). By inference, the average dollar amount of financial assistance among manufacturers that provided any financial assistance (presumably the larger manufacturers) was more than twice the average across all manufacturers (including those that provided none).
- PBM negotiated and retained rebates
PBMs reported negotiating more than $1.9 billion in rebates for essential diabetes drugs for Nevadans (Table 4). Nearly this entire amount was negotiated on behalf of private third parties—predominantly private insurers and self-insured employer plans ($1.3 billion) or other nongovernmental third parties ($598 million). PBMs reported retaining 6.6 percent of all rebates that they negotiated, whether on behalf of private third parties or Medicaid.
Differences in how Nevada’s public report summarized the data obtained from manufacturers and PBMs make it impossible to develop a picture of the supply chain from the information offered—although it seems likely that Nevada has the information necessary to do this. Nevada’s report demonstrates the crucial importance of requiring manufacturers and PBMs to report information at the same level of aggregation—at the state level or nationally (but not either/or), and for the same individual drugs or narrowly specified groups of drugs—in order to build a coherent picture of the factors that contribute to high consumer cost.
This report summarizes information that five states—California, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont—have obtained from insurers, manufacturers, and/or PBMs to achieve greater drug price transparency. Each of these states is in a relatively early stage of obtaining and understanding their data. Nevertheless, the information they have made public suggests some early lessons for states interested in obtaining meaningful reporting for drug price transparency.
- States share concerns regarding the affordability of many of the same drugs. We identified 120 drugs that concern at least two of the five states—due to high cost, fast-rising cost, and/or the frequency with which the drug is prescribed. The large number of drugs that are of concern across states indicates that there might be substantial value in sharing information across states. State efforts such as Maryland’s recently enacted Drug Affordability Review Board might initially focus on many of these same drugs. States that are developing statutory authority to require manufacturer reporting for these drugs might consider explicitly authorizing data sharing with other states that have compatible confidentiality protections—or else explore other options available in current law or regulation to reduce manufacturers’ burden of redundant reporting to multiple states.
- There is substantial value in understanding pricing across the entire supply chain, from the manufacturer to the consumer, for drugs that drive increases in health insurance premiums and consumer costs. States that design reporting templates using consistent and compatible concepts and measures, and report those measures publicly, can foster mutual understanding of facts among policymakers and stakeholders in a complex system. However, if rebates and other information are reported collectively for all drugs, it frustrates the ability of policymakers to understand impacts on costs for specific drugs. PBM reporting by manufacturer/product code (if not by NDC) is critical to understanding the supply chain for the specific drugs of interest to the states. Nevada’s PBM reporting requirement — for a list of specified NDCs—demonstrates that PBMs are able to report on specific drugs, not only on their aggregate business.
- When requiring manufacturers, PBMs, or other entities to report drug price data, it is critical that the responsible agency be given the authority and resources necessary to follow up when reported data are not complete or credible. Especially in the first years of implementation, the reporting entities may be learning how to report, and they may be reluctant to invest in getting the data right. Accurate reporting is essential for drug transparency laws to help states develop a fair approach to ensuring that prescription drugs are affordable.
References and Appendix
Arkansas SB 520/Act No. 994, 2019. Available at: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2019/2019R/Acts/Act994.pdf. Accessed August 1, 2019.
California Department of Managed Health Care. “Prescription Drug Cost Transparency Report (SB 17): Measurement Year 2017.” Sacramento, CA: Department of Managed Health Care, December 2018. Available at https://www.dmhc.ca.gov/Portals/0/Docs/DO/sb17.pdf. Accessed July 31, 2019.
California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. “Cost Transparency: Prescription Drugs (CTRx),” 2019. Available at https://oshpd.ca.gov/data-and-reports/cost-transparency/rx/. Accessed July 31, 2019.
State of Connecticut, Substitute House Bill No. 5384/Public Act No. 18-41. Available at https://www.cga.ct.gov/2018/ACT/pa/pdf/2018PA-00041-R00HB-05384-PA.pdf. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Iowa SF 563, 2019. Available at: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga= 88&ba=SF percent20563. Accessed August 1, 2019.
Louisiana SB 283/Act No. 371, 2018. Available at: https://legiscan.com/LA/text/SB283/id/1799999/Louisiana-2018-SB283-Chaptered.pdf. Accessed August 1, 2019.
Maine Health Data Organization. “MHDO Prescription Drug Reports,” June 2018. Available at https://mhdo.maine.gov/tableau/prescriptionReports.cshtml. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Minnesota SF 278, 2019. Available at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=senate&f=SF0278&ssn=0&y=2019. Accessed August 1, 2019.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, SB539 Reporting Timeline v08.10.2018, August 10, 2018a. Available at: http://dhhs.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dhhsnvgov/content/HCPWD/SB539 percent20Drug percent20Transparency percent20Reporting percent20Timeline_v08.10.2018_website.pdf. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. “Essential Diabetes Drugs Price Increase Report.” Carson City, NV: Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Primary Care Office. September 2018. Available at http://dhhs.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dhhsnvgov/content/HCPWD/09.11.2018 percent20Nevada percent20Essential percent20Diabetes percent20Drugs percent20Price percent20Increase percent20Report_Final.pdf. Accessed July 31. 2019.
Jones, S., P. Thompson, J. Tucker, H. Mitchell, T. McKnight, H. Wallace, and K. Devine. “Drug Transparency Report 2019 Essential Diabetes Drugs” Carson City, NV: Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health, May 2019. Available at http://dhhs.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dhhsnvgov/content/HCPWD/DHHS percent202019 percent20Drug percent20Transparency percent20Report percent205-31-2019(1).pdf. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. “Insurer Reports on Prescription Drugs Drug Price Transparency Program,” 2019. Available at https://dfr.oregon.gov/drugtransparency/data/Documents/insurer-reports-rx-drugs-2019.pdf. Accessed October 16, 2019.
Texas HB 2536, 86th Legislature, 2019-2020. Available at: https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB2536/id/2027782/Texas-2019-HB2536-Enrolled.html. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Office of the Vermont Attorney General. “Prescription Drug Cost Transparency-Manufacturer and Health Insurer Annual Reporting” (undated). https://ago.vermont.gov/drug-price-transparency-manufacturer-and-health-insurer-annual-reporting/. Accessed July 31, 2019.
State of Vermont Green Mountain Care Board. “Impact of Prescription Drug Costs on Health Insurance Premiums.” Montpelier, VT: State of Vermont Green Mountain Care Board, January 2019. Available at https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Legislative-Reports/Act-193-Report-Impact-of-Prescription-Drug-Costs-on-Health-Insurance-Premiums.pdf. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Washington HB 1224/Chapter 334, 2019. Available at: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/House percent20Passed percent20Legislature/1224-S2.PL.pdf
Appendix 1: Drugs reported by two or more states: California, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont
|00173069600||Advair (Diskus)||CA, ME||Respiratory Tract Agents|
|Multiple NDCs||Amlodipine Besylate||CA, OR||Antihypertensives|
|Multiple NDCs||Amoxicillin||CA, OR||Antibacterials|
|60505258009||Atorvastatin||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Antihyperlipidemics|
|60505257909||Atorvastatin||CA, OR, VT,||Antihyperlipidemics|
|50111078751||Azithromycin||CA, ME, OR||Antibacterials|
|00002771559||Basaglar (Kwikpen)||ME, NV, OR||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00173085910||Breo Ellipta||CA, ME||Respiratory Tract Agents|
|45963014205||Bupropion Hcl||CA, OR, VT,||Antidepressants|
|10370010150||Bupropion Hcl||CA, OR, VT,||Antidepressants|
|00069046903||Chantix||CA, VT||Antidotes, Deterrents, and Toxicological Agents|
|00069047103||Chantix||CA, VT||Antidotes, Deterrents, and Toxicological Agents|
|68546032512||Copaxone||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents (Platelet-Aggregation Inhibitors)|
|Cosentyx||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Immunological Agents|
|61958200201||Descovy||CA, ME, VT||Antivirals|
|00024591401||Dupixent||ME, OR||Immunological Agents|
|00003089421||Eliquis||CA, ME, OR||Blood Formation, Coagulation, and Thrombosis Agents|
|58406044504||Enbrel||CA, ,ME, ,OR, VT||Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents (Platelet-Aggregation Inhibitors)|
|61958220101||Epclusa||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Antivirals|
|Multiple NDCs||Fluoxetine||CA, OR||Antidepressants|
|00054327099||Fluticasone Prop||CA, ME, VT||Respiratory Tract Agents|
|60505082901||Fluticasone Prop||CA, VT||Respiratory Tract Agents|
|69097081412||Gabapentin||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Anticonvulsants|
|00078060715||Gilenya||CA, VT||Immunological Agents|
|68084011201||Glipizide ER||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|68084029521||Glipizide ER||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|68084011101||Glipizide ER||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|61958180101||Harvoni||CA, ME, VT||Anti-infective Agents|
|00002879959||Humalog (Kwikpen)||ME, NV, OR||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00002751001||Humalog||CA, ME, OR||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00074433902||Humira (Pen)||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Gastrointestinal Drugs; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents (Platelet-Aggregation Inhibitors)|
|00074379902||Humira (Syringe)||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Gastrointestinal Drugs; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents (Platelet-Aggregation Inhibitors)|
|00002880559||Humulin N||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00002831501||Humulin N||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00002831517||Humulin N||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00002821501||Humulin R||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00002821517||Humulin R||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00002882427||Humulin R U-500 KwikPen||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00002850101||Humulin R U-500||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|16729018317||Hydrochlorothiazide||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Diuretics|
|00406012301||Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen||ME, OR, VT,||Analgesics – Opioid|
|50458014030||Invokana||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|50458014090||Invokana||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|50458014130||Invokana||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|50458014190||Invokana||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006057761||Janumet||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006057762||Janumet||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006057782||Janumet||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006057561||Janumet||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006057562||Janumet||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006057582||Janumet||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006027731||Januvia||CA, ME, NV, VT||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006011254||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006027733||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006027754||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006027782||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006022128||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006022131||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006022154||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006011228||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006011231||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006027702||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00006027728||Januvia||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597015230||Jardiance||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597015237||Jardiance||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597015290||Jardiance||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597015330||Jardiance||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597015337||Jardiance||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597015390||Jardiance||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00088222033||Lantus||ME, NV||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00088221905||Lantus Solostar||CA, ME, NV, VT||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00169643810||Levemir||ME, NV||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00378180310||Levothyroxine Sodium||,CA, OR, VT||Hormonal Agents – Thyroid|
|00185060501||Lisinopril||CA, ,OR, VT||Antihypertensives|
|68180098103||Lisinopril||CA, ME, OR||Antihypertensives|
|65862020390||Losartan Potassium||CA, ,OR, VT||Antihypertensives|
|00071101668||Lyrica||CA, VT||Neuropathic Pain|
|60687014301||Metformin HCL||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|49483062350||Metformin Hcl Er||CA, VT||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|62037083101||Metoprolol Succinate Er||CA, ,OR, VT||Beta Blockers|
|Multiple NDCs||Montelukast Sodium||CA, OR||Respiratory Tract Agents, Asthma|
|55513019001||Neulasta||OR, VT||Blood products and modifiers (Anti-infective for chemotherapy)|
|00169633910||Novolog||ME, NV, OR, VT,||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|00052027303||Nuvaring||CA, VT||Contraceptives, Intravaginal, Systemic|
|61958210101||Odefsey||CA, OR||Antivirals (HIV Treatment)|
|55111015810||Omeprazole||ME, ,OR, VT||Gastrointestinal Drugs|
|53885024510||Onetouch Ultra Test Strip||CA, VT||Blood Sugar Diagnostics|
|Non-matching NDCs||Orkambi||ME, VT||Respiratory Agents – Misc.|
|59310057922||Proair||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Beta-Adrenergic Agents|
|00023530105||Restasis (Multidose)||CA, ME||Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat (EENT) Preparations|
|59572041028||Revlimid||CA, ME, OR||Antineoplastics|
|59572041000||Revlimid||CA, ME, OR||Antineoplastics|
|68180035302||Sertraline||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Antidepressants|
|69097083502||Sertraline||CA, VT, OR||Antidepressants|
|65862001305||Sertraline||CA, VT, OR||Antidepressants|
|Non-matching NDCs||Spiriva (Respimat/Handihaler)||ME, VT||Autonomic Drugs; Respiratory Tract Agents|
|12496120803||Suboxone||ME, VT||Central Nervous System Agents; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents; Miscellaneous Therapeutic Agents (Platelet-Aggregation Inhibitors)|
|52268001201||Suprep Bowel Prep Kit||CA, OR||Gastrointestinal Agents (Colonoscopy prep)|
|57894006103||Stelara||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Immunological Agents|
|00186037020||Symbicort||CA, ME, VT||Antiasthmatic And Bronchodilator Agents|
|64406000602||Tecfidera||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Psychotherapeutic And Neurological Agents – Misc.|
|49702022813||Tivicay||CA, VT||Antivirals, Hiv-Spec, Non-Peptidic Protease Inhib|
|00597014030||Tradjenta||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597014061||Tradjenta||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|00597014090||Tradjenta||CA, NV||Blood Glucose Regulators|
|50111043301||Trazodone||ME, OR, VT,||Antidepressants|
|00169255013||Tresiba (Flextouch)||ME, NV||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|49702023113||Triumeq||CA, OR, VT,||Antivirals|
|Non-matching NDCs||Trulicity||ME, NV||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|61958070101||Truvada||CA, OR||HIV Treatment|
|61958070301||Truvada||CA, OR||HIV Treatment|
|00173068220||Ventolin||CA, ME, OR, VT,||Autonomic Drugs; Respiratory Tract Agents|
|00169406013||Victoza (3-Pak)||ME, NV, VT||Hormones and Synthetic Substitutes|
|50458057930||Xarelto||CA, ME, VT||Anticoagulants,Coumarin Type|
|54092060601||Xiidra||CA, VT||Opthalmic Agents|
|Non-matching NDCs||Metformin||CA, NV, OR, VT,||Blood Glucose Regulators|
Source: Mathematica analysis of data reported in: California Department of Managed Health Care (2018); Maine Health Data Organization (2018); Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (2018b); Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (2019); and State of Vermont Green Mountain Care Board (2019).
 These states are California, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Vermont. See: National Academy for State Health Policy Center for State Rx Pricing, Newly Enacted Laws at https://www.nashp.org/new-laws/, accessed August 8, 2019.
 See: California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (2018), Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (2018b), Maine Health Data Organization (2018), and State of Vermont Green Mountain Care Board (2019).
 See: California Department of Managed Health Care (December 2019).
 See: Vermont Green Mountain Care Board (January 2019).
 See: Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (2019).
 Washington defines a covered drug as one that “is currently on the market, is manufactured by a covered manufacturer, and has a wholesale acquisition cost of more than one hundred dollars for a course of treatment lasting less than one month or a thirty-day supply, and … the manufacturer increases the wholesale acquisition cost at least …  percent, including the proposed increase and the cumulative increase over one calendar year prior to the date of the proposed increase [or]  percent, including the proposed increase and the cumulative increase over three calendar years prior to the date of the proposed increase.” See: Washington HB 1224/Chapter 334 (2019), Section 2.
 A number of other states recently passed (but have not yet enacted) legislation that would require PBM reporting. Such states include Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota. These states variously would require PBM reporting of total rebates (all states); rebates retained by the PBM (Minnesota—like Nevada, Texas, and Washington); rebates the PBM did (or did not) pass through to insurers (Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota—like Connecticut and Texas); rebates passed through to enrollees at point of sale (Arkansas—like Texas); the amount paid for pharmacy services (Arkansas—like Washington); administrative fees received by the PBM (Iowa and Louisiana); and the highest, lowest, and mean aggregate retained rebate percentage (Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota). See: Arkansas SB 520/Act No. 994 (2019); Iowa SF 563 (2019), Louisiana SB 283/Act No. 371 (2018); and Minnesota SF 278/Session Law Chapter 39 (2019).
 Nevada’s report notes that the variation among manufacturers (and potentially among drugs produced by the same manufacturer) is significant: a simple unweighted average per manufacturer, then calculated across manufacturers, produced an average profit of 152 percent of the sum of production and administrative cost—that is, for every dollar spent on combined production and administrative costs, the manufacturers earned, on average, $1.52 in profit. The report states that larger manufacturers (with lower profit rates) tend to reduce the aggregate profit ratio, as calculated in Figure 1.
 Built on the National Academy for State Health Policy’s model legislation, Maryland’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board is an independent body with the authority to review high-cost prescription drugs and identify fair, appropriate rates for Marylanders to pay.
 To obtain consistent information from all reporting entities, NASHP’s model legislation and reporting templates call for reporting at the NDC level, and they align national and state-level reporting to support a coherent picture of pricing along the supply chain for each drug. See: https://www.nashp.org/policy/prescription-drug-pricing/model-legislation/#toggle-id-1, accessed August 9, 2019.
Acknowledgements: The National Academy for State Healthy Policy’s Center for State Rx Drug Pricing, with support from Arnold Ventures, commissioned this analysis from experts affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research.
In the face of rapidly rising prices, state Medicaid programs are asserting their prescription drug purchasing power through more active oversight of the administration of prescription drug benefits. As major drug purchasers, state Medicaid programs have leverage to lower costs without action from state legislatures. Ohio, Washington, and West Virginia have recently deployed a range of strategies to curb drug costs:
- Ohio requires Medicaid managed care plans to adopt transparent, pass-through payment models with their pharmacy benefit mangers (PBMs).
- To maximize rebate potential and reduce administrative burden, Washington State is implementing a single preferred drug list (PDL) across Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care plans.
- West Virginia carved out the prescription drug benefit from its managed care contracts and now acts as its own PBM to increase oversight of drug purchasing and reduce costs.
Below is a detailed explanation of how these three states have implemented innovative purchasing strategies for their Medicaid pharmacy purchases.
Ohio Requires a Transparent, Pass-Through PBM Payment Model
A 2018 report found that PBMs retained profits of $224 million by creating a “spread” between what Medicaid paid PBMs for pharmacy claims versus what PBMs paid pharmacies. In response, Ohio mandated that managed care plans switch to contracts with transparent, pass-through payment models with the PBMs. With a transparent, pass-through model, states can ensure PBMs do not profit off this spread-pricing practice and pass through drug discounts and rebates to managed care plans. PBMs are instead reimbursed more directly through fees. Wisconsin’s state employee health plan requires a similar, fully transparent, pass-through payment model. Through this change in contract terms, Wisconsin’s per member, per month drug costs were more than 10 percent below industry averages from 2016 to 2018.
Ohio state officials report making significant changes to managed care contracts to increase transparency, reporting, and accountability pertaining to their PBM contracts and drug payments. Through enhanced reporting from managed care plans, officials have been able to confirm the successful implementation of the pass-through model. Ohio’s 2020 budget goes a step farther, requiring all managed care plans to contract with a single PBM, which will be selected by Ohio’s Medicaid department, giving the state more authority over drug purchasing.
Washington State: Implementing a Single, Standard Medicaid PDL Across MCOs
In January 2018, the Washington Healthcare Authority implemented a single PDL – a list that indicates which drugs are “preferred” by the state and do not require prior authorization. Washington’s Medicaid program transitioned from six different PDLs across managed care organizations (MCO) to one. A single PDL provides a number of advantages, including:
- Administrative ease for providers, patients, and pharmacies;
- Rebate maximization by selecting drugs with the lowest cost or maximum rebate potential;
- Rebate transparency for more accurate cost management; and
- Fewer disruptions for patients who may switch between managed care plans.
To transition to a single PDL, Washington submitted two State Plan Amendments – one for the single PDL and one to include managed care plans in its supplemental rebate contracts through a multi-state purchasing pool for drugs on the PDL. Washington also added and amended contracts with a number of vendors to ensure the Medicaid agency and managed care plans had access to the same drug data sources to allow seamless collaboration – an important detail for ensuring care coordination. Officials met with managed care plans weekly to plan and roll out the three phases of implementation, ensuring that drugs added to the PDL were clinically appropriate and cost-effective for the state and the plans. Implementation began with 27 drug classes and is expected to be complete by April 2020 with almost 400 different drug classes included in the PDL.
West Virginia: Carving Prescription Drugs Out of Managed Care
In 2017, West Virginia Medicaid began acting as its own pharmacy benefit administrator under a fee-for-service model, after carving out prescription drug benefits from its managed care contracts. To accomplish the prescription drug carve-out, West Virginia:
- Added an additional pharmacist to its staff;
- Stress-tested its existing claims processing system;
- Increased its capacity for prior authorizations; and
- Educated the public and its help desk staff about the program change.
West Virginia’s Medicaid program now covers over 550,000 enrollees through a fee-for-service model. State officials report they are able to effectively manage the pharmacy benefit and maintain care coordination across MCOs, while obtaining savings for the state. The prescription drug carve-out led to a savings of $54.5 million in 2018. Additionally, changes to the state’s reimbursement methodology during the carve-out process led to an infusion of $122 million in dispensing fees to the state’s pharmacy community.
While West Virginia is acting as its own PBM, California is carving out the prescription drug benefit from its managed care contracts and contracting with a single PBM to leverage the state’s immense purchasing power. California will use strict contracting terms to ensure greater transparency and cost savings with the contracted PBM. Michigan is currently considering a drug carve-out and legislatures in Louisiana and Nevada prompted their Medicaid programs to explore a potential carve-out of prescription drugs from managed care.
As states strengthen their oversight of drug purchasing, the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has created and will soon release a model PBM contract for states. Informed by Ohio and Minnesota’s contracts, NASHP’s model contract is designed to help states ban spread pricing and better understand rebate arrangements with their PBMs. To learn more about other administrative actions to curb rising drug costs, read the Administrative Action section of NASHP’s Prescription Drug Pricing website.
Friday, Nov. 1, 2019
3:30-4:30 p.m. (ET)
Faced with rising prescription drug costs, state Medicaid programs are implementing innovative policies to manage their pharmacy benefit and find savings. This webinar, for state officials only, is an opportunity to hear officials from three leading states:
- West Virginia carved pharmacy benefits out of its Medicaid managed care program in 2017 and reports that its shift to a fee-for-service model saved the state over $54 million in state fiscal year 2018.
- In response to a report demonstrating the cost to the state when pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) profit from “spread pricing,” Ohio began requiring managed care plans’ contracts with PBMs to include a transparent, pass-through payment model and to prohibit spread pricing as of January 2019. Ohio’s recently passed 2020 budget bill goes a step farther, requiring all managed care plans to contract with a single PBM, which is selected by the Ohio’s Medicaid department.
- To lower the cost of drugs and maximize rebate potential, Washington’s Medicaid program implemented a single formulary for all managed care and fee-for-service pharmacy benefits on Jan. 1, 2018.
This webinar is for state officials only and will not be recorded.
Moderator: Trish Riley, Executive Director, National Academy for State Health Policy
- Brian Thompson, MS, PharmD, Director of Pharmacy Services, Bureau for Medical Services, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
- Vicki Cunningham, PharmD, former Director of Pharmacy Services, Bureau for Medical Services, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
- Maureen Corcoran, MBA, MSN, Director, Ohio Department of Medicaid
- Donna Sullivan, MS, PharmD, Chief Pharmacy Officer, Washington Health Care Authority
In 2019, states built on the momentum that had been gaining in recent years and passed targeted legislation to address the role harmful pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) business practices play in escalating prescription drug prices. The laws supporting these approaches, described below, give states enforcement mechanisms to ensure that the discounts that PBMs recoup are ultimately used to lower drug and premium costs for consumers.
During the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, states increasingly passed laws focused on PBMs, often referred to as the “middleman” in the drug supply chain. Health plans contract with PBMs to manage their pharmacy benefit, which includes negotiating rebates with manufacturers and ensuring pharmacies have medications to dispense.
As states address prescription drug prices, there have been many questions raised about PBM practices. Where do the negotiated manufacturer rebates go? How much is the PBM keeping versus what is passed along to help consumers pay for prescriptions? Also, what about the differing amounts health plans pay for prescription drugs – compared to the often lower reimbursement amount paid to pharmacies? How much of that “spread in pricing” do PBMs keep as profit? Could opaque PBM payment practices be contributing to the overall high costs of prescription drugs?
Last year, Ohio’s state auditor released a report revealing that PBMs charged Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) a “spread” of more than 31 percent for generic drugs, which cost the state $208 million – all of which PBMs pocketed as profit. This issue is not unique to Ohio. Lack of defined regulations allow PBMs to pocket portions of manufacturer rebates or use spread pricing models instead of passing negotiated discounts back to health plans and their consumers.
To address those opaque practices, in 2019 several states enacted laws to:
- More clearly define PBM practices;
- Require transparency of specific prices, costs, and rebates; and
- Take steps to explicitly define fiduciary responsibilities of health plans for their contracted PBMs.
To date, 27 states require PBMs to obtain licensure from their states’ departments of insurance prior to operating in the state. This year, Minnesota, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Utah enacted laws to require PBM licensure. Licensure is a critical component of effective PBM regulation because it allows a state to know how many and what entities are operating as PBMs. This also gives the state power to suspend or revoke a license should the PBM break the law or engage in fraudulent activity.
States also passed stronger transparency reporting requirements for PBMs. New York passed and Minnesota enacted measures requiring transparency reporting to both health plans and relevant state agencies. Notably, under the New York bill, a health plan will have access to all financial and utilization information of a PBM in relation to pharmacy benefit management services provided to the plan. Access to a PBM’s financial information will allow health plans in New York to monitor their contracted PBMs for fraudulent activity and deceptive acts. It also empowers health plans to enforce provisions of its contract with a PBM. The measure passed the legislature with broad support and now awaits action by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The Minnesota law goes beyond other states’ transparency bills by requiring PBMs to submit de-identified claims level information to their plan sponsors. Under this law, PBMs must report any spread collected on a claim, along with the amount paid to the pharmacy for each prescription. The law also requires PBMs give information to plan sponsors that differentiates between payments made to pharmacies owned or controlled by the PBMs and those not affiliated with the PBM. Data reported to plans will highlight any PBM conflicts of interest and deceptive business practices. Health plans and the state can use this data to create a clearer picture of how PBMs make their profits and identify additional actions the state can take to rein in bad practices.
Health Plan Oversight
States are also increasingly focused on requiring health plans to take more responsibility for monitoring the PBMs they contract with. For example, under Maine’s new law, if a health insurance carrier uses a PBM to manage its prescription drug benefits, the carrier is responsible for monitoring all activities performed by the contracted PBM. By tasking carriers with PBM monitoring responsibilities, Maine is leveraging its Bureau of Insurance to enforce these provisions of the law. The law also stipulates that PBMs have a fiduciary duty to their insurance carriers when managing their prescription drug benefits and as such, carriers are empowered to hold PBMs accountable for their financial dealings. This law may be protected from an Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) legal challenge because lawmakers purposefully used an existing definition of “carrier” in state law that imposes requirements on state-regulated insurance carriers only. Therefore, the law does not apply to plans governed by ERISA. (Read Maine Forges New Ground and Enacts Comprehensive Drug Package for more information about Maine’s comprehensive PBM law.)
The New York measure stipulates that in addition to health plans, PBMs have a duty and obligation to covered individuals to perform their services with care, diligence, and professionalism. Under this measure, all funds received by the PBM, including funds derived from spread pricing, must be used on behalf of the health plan and can only be used pursuant to the PBM’s contract with the plan. Medical loss ratio rules require health plans to spend 80 percent of a beneficiary’s premium on medical claims and the remaining 20 percent on overhead expenses, including profits. This means that any manufacturer discounts passed from PBMs to a health plan will be used to lower spending on pharmacy benefits, which will in turn decrease premium costs for beneficiaries.
Medicaid Managed Care Contracts
States are also increasing their Medicaid agencies’ oversight of PBMs. Informed by Ohio’s report last summer, lawmakers included provisions in their budget that require the state to contract with a single PBM for the entire Medicaid managed care program. The “state PBM” will have strict transparency reporting requirements and will be prohibited from requiring a Medicaid recipient to obtain a specialty drug from a specialty pharmacy owned by or associated with that state PBM. This will end the practice of “self direction,” which benefits PBMs but typically increases out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Conflicts of interest language along with transparency requirements limit anti-competitive practices and give state officials more control over how PBMs operate in the Ohio.
Similarly, a new law in Louisiana authorizes its Department of Health to carve out pharmacy services from Medicaid MCO contracts and assume direct responsibility for all pharmacy services. If the department chooses to use a PBM to administer the pharmacy benefit, the PBM can only be reimbursed with a transaction fee and cannot retain any portion of spread pricing or state supplemental rebates. This ensures the state will get all of the discounts the PBM negotiates with drug manufacturers. The transaction fee will be the only payment to the PBM, which prevents it from pocketing a spread or a portion of discounts intended for the state.
States cannot control which new drugs come to market or what their list prices will be, but they can impose Medicaid contracting requirements to ensure PBMs are working in the interest of the state. Through these laws, Ohio and Louisiana can take active roles in monitoring PBM practices and administering pharmacy benefits to ensure protections for the state.
The laws passed during the 2019 legislative session are the result of states’ iterative policymaking processes – lawmakers first work with state agencies to identify problems, build on prior legislation, and then develop legislative solutions. Targeted approaches like the ones highlighted here can help stem drug spending, but PBMs are only one part of the supply chain contributing to rising drug costs. To see all types of legislation to address drug costs, explore NASHP’s state Legislative Tracker and learn about other new laws states have enacted this year.
As drug price transparency measures proliferate across states, the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) has released revised model transparency legislation featuring a common data set to reduce reporter burden and yield standardized, actionable data that will be comparable across states. The data — to be reported by manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), wholesalers, and insurers — will help state policymakers understand what is driving high drug prices through a comprehensive look across the entire drug supply chain.
This 2.0 version of NASHP’s model transparency bill also contains stronger penalties for failure to report. States will have the ability to audit any data submitted, and require a reporting entity to submit a corrective action plan for reporting deficiencies. If reporting entities do not provide the required data or if the data they provided is inadequate, the model bill allows states to invoke subpoena authority.
NASHP developed the model bill and common data set in collaboration with a work group of states currently implementing or considering transparency laws and Mathematica Policy Research. Last week, Maine State Sen. Eloise Vitelli introduced legislation based on NASHP’s updated model transparency legislation. The model bill is available in a streamlined formed as enabling legislation, as well in a longer, comprehensive version that includes in-depth information detailing the reporting requirements of the minimum data set. Additional information about the legislation, including reporting thresholds and data elements that must be reported, are available in this Q&A document. In coming weeks, NASHP will also publish customized reporting templates for manufacturers, PBMs, wholesalers, and insurers.
While NASHP’s model transparency bill builds off existing transparency measures, the common data set requires the collection of additional information not otherwise publically available, including specific information about past and projected costs and revenues at the individual drug level. Some of this information may be considered proprietary, and the model bill includes language to protect it while still requiring an annual report and public hearing to share and explore findings – although in a manner that does not reveal information specific to any one reporting entity. This reporting will provide states with more information to determine what drives high prices – and how to take effective action to address them.
States interested in this model legislation will have access to NASHP’s technical assistance. Please contact Jennifer Reck for more information.
New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham recently signed into law SB 131, establishing a state Interagency Pharmacy Purchasing Council to leverage public purchasing power by reviewing and coordinating cost-containment strategies through procurement of pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical benefits, and pooling of risk among state agencies.
Cosponsored by state Sen. Jeff Steinborn* and Rep. Joanne Farrary, the law also identifies private-sector opportunities to help residents not covered by state plans, either through existing private-sector discount programs or by leveraging the government’s drug spending. Importantly, the legislature appropriated $400,000 to support the council’s work. The council will include the department heads or their designees of these state agencies and groups:
- Departments of human services, health, children, youth, and families, and corrections;
- The Risk Management Division of the General Services Department;
- The New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority;
- Public schools and the University of New Mexico; and
- Two members appointed by the governor who are officers or designees of organizations that represent county, municipal, and local governments.
The secretary of the state’s General Services Department will direct the council, which must hold its first meeting by Sept. 1, 2019.
The law preserves the authority of state agencies to make their own procurement decisions and lays out a list of strategies that the council can examine and possibly deploy, including:
- Benchmarking health care costs to Medicaid, with the understanding that federal authority may be needed for changes to the Medicaid program;
- Establishing a common drug formulary to be shared by state agencies;
- A single-purchasing agreement;
- Common procurement practices for expert services (e.g., a pharmacy benefit manager or actuarial services);
- Identifying opportunities to consolidate purchasing and pool risk between two or more state agencies;
- Negotiating advantageous pricing and incentives throughout the drug supply chain;
- Partnering with other multi-state purchasing collaboratives; and
- Identifying ways to leverage public purchasing to benefit residents who purchase services/drugs in the private sector.
The council will vote on which strategies to pursue and they will next be evaluated by the legislature’s Finance Committee, with the goal of incorporating agency savings into budget deliberations and measuring the council’s effectiveness and progress.
“I am thrilled that New Mexico has taken this important step to pursue greater cost containment of prescription drug costs,” said Sen. Steinborn. “We have crafted a bill intended to aggressively explore cost-containment options, while at the same allow flexibility and oversight. It has the potential to save our state a significant amount of money and I’m excited to have the council get to work.”
New Mexico is on the leading edge of a new wave of states’ efforts to more aggressively coordinate public purchasers and leverage their considerable buying power to lower pharmacy and other health care costs. By engaging key state agency leaders and requiring accountability and oversight by the legislature’s Budget Committee, New Mexico’s important initiative bears close watching by other states.
For more insights into states’ collaborative purchasing and cost control initiatives, read: Cross-Agency Strategies to Curb Health Care Costs: Leveraging State Purchasing Power.
*State Sen. Steinborn serves on the National Academy for State Health Policy’s Health System Performance and Public Health Steering Committee
Unrelenting and unpredictable increases in prescription drug prices have spurred states to try to unlock the black box of manufacturer pricing strategies by requiring disclosure of how prices are set and how rebates are handled throughout the supply chain.
Six states already have transparency laws on their books and almost two dozen more have introduced transparency bills during the 2019 session. In 2017, Maryland enacted a first-in-the-nation law prohibiting price gouging by drug manufacturers. Though the law is tied up in legal challenges, other states have introduced related bills to curb rapid and large drug price increases.
On the heels of ongoing state actions, federal lawmakers introduced a number of similar bills in Congress this month. These bills are able to leverage enforcement mechanisms beyond those available to states. For example, Sen. Richard Durbin (IL) and Rep. Jared Golden (ME) have introduced the Forcing Limits on Abusive and Tumultuous (FLAT) Prices Act. FLAT would require companies to report price hikes and would limit the market exclusivity period granted with a drug patent if the price of the drug goes up more than 10 percent in one year, 18 percent in two years, or 25 percent in three years. Failure to report price hikes would limit a drug’s exclusivity period further.
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) also introduced several transparency bills. The Stopping the Pharmaceutical Industry from Keeping Drugs Expensive (SPIKE) Act requires the Health and Human Services secretary to request price justifications from manufacturers if prices increases surpass a threshold of 100 percent over one year or 300 percent over five years. Justification is also required if a drug has a more modest price increase yet falls within the top 50th percentile of Medicare or Medicaid spending. The bill allows manufacturers to forego reporting if they lower their prices.
Wyden also followed states’ leads in pursuing transparency around undisclosed rebates that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) negotiate with manufacturers. (Click here for a comparison of 31 PBM laws passed by 20 states.) Wyden’s Creating Transparency to Have Drug Rebates Unlocked (C-THRU) Act requires reporting by PBMs on the total amount of rebates they receive. Following an initial two years of reporting on these rebates, the law would establish a yet-to-be-determined percentage of rebates that PBMs must pass through to health plans in order to lower premiums or other consumer cost sharing.
Last October, Congressional legislation mirrored state laws when two federal bills regulating PBMs became law. Both federal laws prohibit gag clauses — once common provisions in PBM’s contracts with pharmacists that prevented them from disclosing lower-cost drug options to consumers. One bill prohibits gag clauses under Medicare Part D starting in 2020 and the other, affecting private insurance markets, went into effect immediately.
Thirty-three states had outlawed gag clauses before passage of the federal ban, another example of how state initiatives are now reflected in federal law. To track state activity to bring down drug costs, visit the National Academy for State Health Policy’s Center for State Rx Drug Pricing.
One week into the 2019 legislative season, lawmakers from 11 states have already submitted 30 bills to address the rising cost of prescription drugs.
The bills submitted to date seek to implement wholesale drug importation programs, increase pharmaceutical pricing transparency, and regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), along with other drug cost containment initiatives.
Last year, nine states introduced legislation to either study or implement wholesale drug importation, and Vermont became the first state to pass an importation bill. This year, Colorado has reintroduced a bill that would require its Department of Health Care Policy to design a wholesale importation program, and Missouri also reintroduced a bill to study importation.
Requiring transparency into dramatic price hikes to understand better prescription drug pricing is also expected to remain an area of interest for state lawmakers. In 2018, five states enacted laws that require pharmaceutical manufacturers, PBMs, and health plans to share information behind prescription drug costs and their increases. A newly proposed bill in Texas would require greater pricing transparency for essential diabetes medications, following in the footsteps of Nevada, which passed a similar measure in 2017.
One of the most popular, bipartisan drug pricing legislation passed during the last session was regulation of PBMs. More than 90 PBM bills were introduced last year with 20 states enacting 31 of them. In October, following the legislative precedent taken by dozens of states, Congress passed legislation to prevent gag clauses in PBM contracts to allow pharmacists to share pricing information with consumers. While the prohibition on gag clauses now applies throughout the country, states continue to explore innovative ways to contain costs within the drug supply chain.
During the new 2019 season, eight states have filed 16 bills focusing on PBMs. In Montana, legislation would regulate the way health insurers contract with PBMs to prevent spread pricing — a payment model that allows PBMs to profit by charging insurance plan sponsors more for a prescription than the PBM pays the dispensing pharmacy. The lack of transparency in the spread-pricing model makes it difficult for states to identify how much spread pricing contributes to their overall drug costs. Montana’s proposed legislation is designed to lower health plan premiums for consumers.
With 46 states convening their 2019 legislative sessions and 13 states already introducing bills to curb rising prescription drug costs, clearly this a top priority for many state lawmakers. This is not surprising, in 2018 state lawmakers filed more than 170 prescription drug cost containment bills, with 45 enacted.
Drug prices were frequently mentioned by state and national candidates during the 2018 midterm elections. As national attention on drug prices expands, states will continue to explore solutions to curb the rising cost of pharmaceuticals. The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) will continue to track state’s prescription drug cost bills as they are introduced, enacted, and implemented. To learn more about each state’s drug cost containment bills, explore NASHP’s Legislative Tracker.