Wisconsin state Assembly Democrats introduced a set of three bills that would require prescription drug manufacturers to be more open about how they set their prices.

The legislation package was introduced by Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, in an effort to increase transparency in the pharmaceutical industry. Under the package are three bills that tackle prices of prescription drugs, registration with state insurance regulators and consumer protection. 

“Right now we don’t have any idea what medicine costs and pharmaceuticals are a big part of that,” Kolste said.

Under the first piece of legislation, if pharmaceutical prices are raised above a certain level, manufacturers have to justify it to the state, Kolste said. It is important for residents to know why prices are being raised, which includes what kind of rebates and discounts are being given and why the pricing increase is necessary.

The second bill would require pharmacy benefit managers to register with state insurance regulators, Kolste said. Registration is important because the key players become known, which is important in understanding the pricing of pharmaceuticals, Kolste said.

The third bill focuses on consumer protection, Kolste said, and would prevent insurers from suddenly removing coverage of a medication. Kolste said a constituent had a $5 copay for medication, and when she went back the next month for a refill, she was told it would cost her around $100.

“We are never going to get a hold of how to make health care affordable if we don’t know all the people that are playing in it, what parts are moving and the pricing,” Kolste said.

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Kolste said this is a bipartisan concern and hopes the bills will have bipartisan support.

Likewise, she added it is also a growing concern for the public. Kolste brought up a poll conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that demonstrated taking action to lower prescription drug prices is a top priority for many Americans.

The bills are currently circulating for cosponsorship. After the cosponsorship period is up, the next step will be seeking a hearing for the legislation package.