Minnesota task force takes aim at prescription drug prices

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison unveiled a task force report Wednesday that makes 14 separate recommendations for lowering prescription drug prices ranging from new legislation to stronger enforcement action.

Ellison said at a news conference that the pharmaceutical market is "opaque and dysfunctional," and is not designed for ordinary people to understand. And he said the confusion has been a barrier to fixing the problem.

Ellison starts task force for lowering cost of pharmaceutical drugs

The recommendations from the bipartisan task force include proposals to make the markets work better for people, to use the government's purchasing power to make drugs more affordable and accessible, and to require more transparency and accountability in the market.

Lawmakers on the task force said legislators are already considering some of the 14 proposals, while others that face opposition will have to wait for future legislative sessions.

But the Democratic attorney general said that if Minnesota implements the recommendations, prescription drug prices will come down.

You can see the full report here. The full list of recommendations is below.

  1. Create a Prescription Drug Accountability Commission to address drug pricing and related practices in Minnesota. 
  2. Import four life-saving, critical-access drugs — insulin, EpiPen, Truvada, and naxolone — through a prime vendor, and expand the program if successful.
  3. Enact drug price-gouging legislation that prohibits drug manufacturers from charging or causing to be charged an unconscionable price for essential prescription drugs.
  4. Strengthen Minnesota's consumer-fraud laws as they related to deceptive practices in the pharmaceutical-drug industry.
  5. Enact a state anti-kickback law.
  6. Strengthen Minnesota's antitrust laws to prohibit specific, anticompetitive practices present in the drug industry.
  7. Strongly advocate for reform of federal drug patent and exclusivity laws that are being misused and abused.
  8. Optimize and expand Minnesota's use of the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program, which allows health care providers to purchase drugs at dramatically reduced prices. 
  9. Quantify how much all Minnesota government entities spend on prescription drugs, to enable these entities to better pool and utilize their bulk-purchasing power. 
  10. Optimize and better utilize Minnesota's bulk purchasing power through MMCAP INFUSE, and extend the discounts it receives to individual Minnesotans.
  11. Robustly regulate PBMs and their business practices, building on legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session.  
  12. Enact additional measures to increase transparency into how drugs are priced and reimbursed throughout the drug sales chain. 
  13. Ensure patient access to pharmacists for effective medication use. 
  14. Support additional research into prescription drug pricing and drug benefits.