By Bob Katzen
On November 14, 2019, the Senate 40-0, approved and sent to the House the PACT Act aimed at addressing the high and rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs in the Bay State. A key provision provides immediate price relief
for insulin used by one in ten people living with diabetes who must take it daily or risk major health problems. The measure limits out-of-pocket spending for insulin by eliminating deductibles and coinsurance and capping co-pays at $25 per month. Rising insulin prices have resulted in some people paying out-of-pocket costs of $1,000 or more per year, leading to some patients decreasing their insulin dose or not taking it at all.
Other provisions include requiring pharmaceutical companies to notify the state in advance of new drugs coming to market, and of significant price increases for existing drugs; disclosing the proposed value of certain drugs if manufacturers don’t take meaningful steps to lower costs; and several transparency and accountability mandates.
“I filed this bill to promote transparency in the pharmaceutical industry, which must extend from manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers to pharmacists,” said Sen. Jim Welch (D-Springfield) the sponsor of the original version of the bill. “Pharmaceutical costs are one of the most important issues in health care affordability. I am glad that [my bill] was the building block for the PACT Act. While it remains in the House Committee on Ways and Means, I along with the Senate leadership continue to advocate for its passage this session.”
“Earlier this session, the Senate unanimously passed the PACT Act, comprehensive legislation to address the exorbitant costs of prescription drugs,” said Sen. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “Among the bill’s provisions is an amendment I sponsored to bring us closer to providing epinephrine injector coverage for all children in Massachusetts. This legislation is long overdue, and I urge the House to advance the bill as soon as possible, in recognition of our commitment to reducing costs, bolstering transparency and improving patient outcomes.”