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Vermont becomes first state to require drug makers to justify price hikes, STAT News

Despite opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, Vermont late last week became the first state in the country to require drug makers to justify price hikes for medicines.

The law is part of a wave of state legislation that comes in response to growing concern over the rising cost of prescription drugs. Around the country, lawmakers have been introducing bills in hopes of forcing drug makers to either disclose costs or explain pricing. These demands reflect industry arguments that rising prices reflect rising R&D costs.

“This bill is about accountability,” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said in a statement.

Against a backdrop of innovation, the pharmaceutical industry has endured blistering criticism for pricing. The most notorious examples — Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Turing Pharmaceuticals buying older drugs and jacking up prices by sky-high amounts — generated mountains of headlines and congressional scrutiny.

But the outrage has not been confined to any one type of company or treatment. Concerns over affordability have spread to generics, which are traditionally lower-cost alternatives to brand-name medicines, as well as new drugs for hard-to-treat diseases, notably hepatitis C and some forms of cancer. Prices for older medicines, such as multiple sclerosis treatment, are also climbing.

Click here to read the full article by Ed Silverman, STAT News