This is Your State – This is Your State on Drugs

In years gone by, I have taken occasion to write a posting with this title to take a look at the policy activity that is going on at the state level that impacts medicines. It has been a few years since doing so but it is a good time to revisit the topic. The go-to resource regarding state legislation on a host of topics generally – and on what is happening regarding pharmaceuticals specifically – is the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

One of the many resources on the site is a data base covering legislative proposals that involve prescription drugs, allowing one to sort legislation based on its category and topic. Through the data base you can also get access to search for the actual text of bills within the various states. Taking a look at what’s going on at the state level is important for a lot of reasons.

  • Biosimilars – While national policy issues often indicate the direction that things are taking – it is often at the state level where details play out. So at the state level right now, a lot of states are looking at the issue of biosimilars. According to NCSL in the past two years 31 states have taken up legislative proposals that deal with the standards of how a biosimilar drug might be used in place of the original brand product. The various characteristics of the state legislation are overviewed here with more details.
  • Prescription Drug Abuse – And the inverse can also be true. While national policy often leaves some of the details to the state level when it comes to implementation, states may take actions that end up driving national policy or that faster than federal policy. A search in the data base across all categories with a key word of “abuse” yields 48 proposed bills across 23 states in 2016. Many of the proposed bills promote access to abuse-deterrent opioid analgesics, such as this bill (Illinois – S 102).
  • Pricing – The database has a category for pricing and payment that contains over 160 bills in over 30 states, but a search of all the categories using the term “pricing” yields a subset of proposals across several states more specifically aimed at the pricing of pharmaceutical products. While a hot topic at the national level, there were only thirteen proposed bills in nine states, with one of the most common proposals being related to setting up a means for studying the issue of pharmaceutical pricing and to make recommendations.

There are also a number of proposals related to the regulation of pharmacy compounding to state legislation on patient “right to try“. The newly expanded and improved resources available at NCSL allow one to find with some precision what one is looking for when it comes to understanding state action in this space.

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