PRESCRIPTION SAVINGS BILL STALLED - Legislature Needs Punishment Clause (For Themselves)


The annual ballyhoo in the legislature about helping West Virginians with the high cost of prescription drugs appears dead in the water, again.

While the major drug companies lobbyists circled the capitol each day, the prescription drug bill is now stalled in the Senate.

Chairman Roman Prezioso says Governor Joe Manchin has several problems with a House bill.

The House bill calls for a consumer-driven council to oversee the state's efforts in negotiating with large drug companies on cheaper prescription prices.

The governor doesn't like the heavy-handed approach in dealing with the drug companies, like asking how much they spend on marketing.

Senator Prezioso says the governor wants the bill to require West Virginia join with at least five other states in negotiating drug prices.

Putnam County Senator Mike Hall proposed Tuesday that the bill be made into a study.

For certain, the legislature needs some punishment clauses, one to never again take up helping West Virginians with drug costs, and the second, a more severe punishment when they announce they're going to "study" a matter some more.

The drug cost problem has already been studied to death.

Meanwhile, the brand name prescription drug prices continue to rise at about twice the rate of inflation, according to the latest AARP Watchdog Report.

AARP contends the West Virginia Legislature can curb these rising costs by passing a drug bill.

So far, their efforts haven't produced results.

The Watchdog Report found that ten of the brand name drugs it tracks increased at least four times the rate of general inflation during 2006.

Ambien led the pack with a 29.7 percentage increase in manufacturer price, followed by Combivent at 18.3 percent and Atrovent Inhaler at 16.9 percent.

The report says "Drug prices continue to skyrocket. Over time escalating drug prices will make Medicare drug plans un-affordable for older Americans."

The report shows that nearly 200 of the most commonly used brand name drugs for older adults rose 6.2 percent in 2006, nearly twice the general rate of inflation.