June 2, 2017 03:09 PM

The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 436 by Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, requiring the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to create a website listing transparent pricing information for prescription drugs.

Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, a pharmacist, authored an identical bill and said in committee the measures are intended to give physicians more information about drug costs that they can discuss with patients when prescribing medication.

Talbot’s bill, however, is the one going to the governor’s desk for signature and enactment into law (assuming Gov. John Bel Edwards signs it). Mills carried the measure for Talbot before the Senate chamber.

Some cholesterol medications range in cost from 6 cents to $10, Mills pointed out: “I’m not saying that should be the deciding factor, but it could be.”

The Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, better known as PhRMA, is a trade group representing pharmaceutical companies. Mills said they have agreed to support and fund the program.

“This could be really good for Louisiana,” he said. “I envision us partnering with our universities and schools of pharmacy, designing this program and exporting it to other states.”

Physicians will have access to the price database as soon as funding is secured from private entities like PhRMA. The information could be linked to existing websites, according to the Louisiana State Nurses Association.

An amendment attached to Talbot’s bill on the House floor requires drug marketers or manufacturers to provide up-to-date information about wholesale prices on a quarterly basis.

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