The out-of-control price of prescription drugs is a crisis in our Utah communities that increasingly affects workers, small-business owners and their families.

The price of lifesaving medications continues to climb at astronomical rates and the burden on communities like Draper has become unsustainable.

Here are a few sobering statistics: In one year alone, 44% of Utah residents stopped taking a prescription drug as a result of the cost, and over a five-year period, Big Pharma hiked prices on prescription drugs in Utah by an average of 58%, while the average annual income rose just 8%. 

As the CEO and president of the Draper Area Chamber of Commerce, I see our business community working tirelessly every day to create and offer more opportunity in our city. But, in far too many instances, progress made to create jobs, lift wages and offer quality health care coverage is undermined by burdensome prescription drug costs.

The pressure on workers, many of whom must work later in life or labor to support a family member with health care costs, can take a large toll and impact their quality of life and productivity.

As the crisis of affordability worsens, communities like Draper need our lawmakers in Utah to act to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices.

A key area in severe need of reform is prescription drug pricing transparency.

Brand-name drug makers act with impunity when it comes to price hikes, in part because there is a lack of transparency around the industry’s practices. Big Pharma is able to repeatedly push prescription prices higher and employ anti-competitive schemes to stymie patient access to affordable alternatives without facing the kind of public scrutiny that might otherwise keep them in check.

Utah patients deserve open and honest drug pricing.

That’s why I’m encouraged and excited to hear that Utah lawmakers are expected to consider the Pharmaceutical Entity Transparency Act in the upcoming legislative session. This market-based legislation would boost transparency and help provide relief for Utah patients and their families.

The bill would take steps to address this issue in a few different ways. The legislation would disincentivize price hikes by requiring drug makers to provide advance notice before raising the price of their products. It would reduce costs by supporting prescription drug competition, and increase education by providing physicians with up-to-date information on the price of drugs, so they can relay those costs to patients. 

It would also hold Big Pharma accountable by preventing copay kickback coupons from being used to prevent patients from getting access to available lower-cost medicine. 

As they consider this important measure, lawmakers in Utah should look to the positive impact similar legislation is already having in other states around the country.

In 2017, California passed a similar measure called Senate Bill 17. When that law took effect, a number of drug makers cancelled or reduced planned price hikes. The success of the California legislation led to a total of 16 states adopting similar measures to boost prescription drug transparency, including Oregon, Texas and Nevada.

I urge legislators in Utah to swiftly advance the Pharmaceutical Entity Transparency Act in the upcoming legislative session.

Workers, business owners and their families in communities like Draper are counting on legislative action to lower prescription drug prices and hold Big Pharma accountable with greater transparency.

Bill Rappleye is the president and CEO of the Draper Chamber of Commerce.