Congress abets drugmaker rebate secrecy

A U.S. Congress "bought and paid for" by the prescription drug industry is preventing states and the public from knowing the cost of the drugs they buy.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana is decrying drugmaker secrecy surrounding the rebates given to states buying drugs for public programs. The secrecy, he says, aims to prevent regular retail customers from knowing how much more they pay for drugs.

Federal law requires that rebate information be kept secret, according to the Billings Gazette. So states are unable to figure the per-unit cost of their purchases. Schweitzer eventually got the information, but he had to agree to not disclose it publicly. "It sounds like a crooked enterprise," he says in the article.

The governor wanted to compare what Montana pays for drugs through Medicaid to the cost of the same drugs in Canada. He found that after industry rebates, the state pays a price nearly as low as Canadian prices, and "much lower" than what retail customers pay.

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