(Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss, and Delegate Martin)

(Originating in the Committee on Rules)

[March 11, 2000]

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to make a study of prescription drug costs and methods to reduce these costs.

Whereas, Prescription drug costs represent the fastest growing item in health care, and are a driving force in rapidly increasing hospital costs and insurance rates; and
Whereas, According to United States government and independent studies, our prices are on average 34 percent higher than prices in Canada and 60 percent higher than prices in Great Britain; but for many drugs, the price difference is even greater; and
Whereas, In addition to charging significantly lower prices to other countries, drug manufacturers also provide significant discounts to their favored customers in the United States; and
Whereas, West Virginia pharmacies are among the victims of price discrimination, paying wholesale drug prices that are significantly higher than those paid by the drug manufacturers' more favored customers; and
Whereas, West Virginia pharmacies generally operate at low profit margins and are losing business to Internet and mail order drug sales; and
Whereas, The Legislature recognizes that high drug prices are rooted in the pricing practices of the pharmaceutical manufacturers and not retail pharmacies and that reducing drug prices would encourage use of local pharmacies and support local communities; and
Whereas, Reducing the cost of prescription drugs by prohibiting excessive prices for prescription drugs would protect the health and safety of West Virginia citizens and lower health care costs in the State by reducing the cost of state supported prescription drug purchasing programs and allowing the expansion or modification of these programs with no new expense to state government; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to review, examine and study the problem of prescription drug costs to all State citizens and to devise methods to reduce these costs, including how the Public Employees Insurance Agency, the Department of Health and Human Resources, and other applicable state agencies can best be utilized to help alleviate rising prescription drug costs; and to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding the same; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.