Democrats, Republicans Unveil Drug Pricing Bills

With the cost of prescription drugs continuing to rise, Illinois lawmakers are stepping in with new bills aimed at controlling those increases.

Several bills call for measures such as regulating drug prices like utilities or allowing Illinois to be a wholesaler for less expensive prescription drugs imported from Canada.

Illinois Pharmacists Association Executive Director Garth Reynolds testified at a House hearing that one concern is the safety of prescription drugs from foreign countries.

"We have some concerns about the safety of bringing medications that are outside the established safety net," Reynolds said. "And we worry about counterfeit medications getting it into the mix as well."

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Another issue is pharmacy benefits managers acting as middlemen between drug companies and insurers, which Reynolds said "has had a significant negative impact on the increased cost of medications and really lowering the overall health outcomes of patients by increasing and erecting barriers."

Reynolds said there are several factors at work.

"We helped with showing them some of those factors that we feel are the biggest manipulators into the rise of medication costs in the country," he said. "I think there's a good start with some components of the legislative packages that have been brought forward. But I think there needs to be further discussion on some of them to really take a look at why medication costs have been going up and to see where the major manipulating factors really need to come to light."

Democrats unveiled the package of legislation that was developed with input from the group Families USA, a consumer health advocacy organization.

Republicans are voicing opposition to the measures. They say the state legislature is not the place to take up the issue of prescription drug pricing and that the ideas in the bills could backfire and cost consumers more money.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio /

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