ROUND FIVE - Cutting The High Cost Of Prescription Dugs


Could relief from the high cost of prescription drugs be around the corner in West Virginia?

During past three or four legislative sessions the state has declared it has taken measures to reduce prescription costs.

After droves of drug company lobbyists descended on the Capitol to stall such action, the industry created a million dollar web site to help folks find better deals, then PR'ing how effective their effort was. Not.

Then there was the creation of some kind of state board or agency to bring the costs down.

Then there was an effort to get on the federal drug register, followed by making drug companies disclose the millions of dollars they give as perks to physicians to promote their medications.

Now the House Finance Committee is talking about the Pharmaceutical Availability and Affordability Act.

The act already is designed to give greater access and reduced costs for drugs for citizens all across West Virginia.

There is new momentum to require pharmaceutical companies to report their marketing expenses.

"We need to do something, we need to do it today," said Ruth Wagner, state president of AARP West Virginia. "We can't wait. We're going to make our children and our grandchildren address this same issue. It's time to step up to the plate, pass this and get on with this."

Some aspects of the legislation appeared to hurt local drug stores.

Richard Stevens, the executive director of West Virginia Pharmacist Association said, "I'm not opposed to the bill, there just needs to be some additional refinements made to the bill in order that people will continue to have access."

"Pharmacies will have the opportunity to participate and any reimbursement or prices that are set by the pharmaceutical advocate are at a level that the pharmacists can purchase those products," he said.

The drug company lobby is descending again, this week, while supporters of the legislation are claiming victory, likely premature.