DENVER, CO– The House Health and Insurance Committee today passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representatives Karen McCormick and Mike Lynch, which would reduce the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Colorado to expand the state’s prescription drug import program. The vote was 8-5.
“Reducing the cost of prescription drugs is one of our top priorities–Coloradans are suffering under the high cost of drugs and can’t wait any longer for relief,” said Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont. “This bill will ensure that Colorado is ready to act if and when the federal government expands safe and affordable drug imports.”
Recent analysis of Colorado’s All Payer Claims Database found that Colorado spent $4 billion in 2018 on prescription drugs, which is 13 percent of all health care spending in the state and an increase of over $300 million since 2016. Nearly 11 percent of Coloradans did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2019, a figure that’s even higher in some parts of the state, such as Pueblo, where it was 18.3 percent. HCPF estimates after looking at 50 drugs that drugs imported from Canada are on average 63 percent cheaper compared to prices in Colorado.
SB21-123 would authorize the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to expand its current drug importation program to include countries in addition to Canada, if federal policy allows such an expansion. The legislation positions Colorado to continue lowering drug costs by expanding the drug importation program. Drugs imported through the program would meet federal supply chain laws and labeling requirements and be the same as the current FDA-approved versions, which are produced across the world for the US market. They would also be tested for authenticity and degradation.