By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Escalating prescription drug prices have grabbed the attention of state lawmakers.

This session, they’ve introduced a half dozen bills including one that would – among other things – require drug companies to justify large price increases.

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(credit: CBS)

A recent survey found one in 10 Coloradans aren’t filling their prescriptions because of cost.

“This is this is playing with life and death decisions. I don’t understand how and why they’re able to raise prices so quickly,” said Gail Devore.

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CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Gail Devore.
(credit: CBS)

She’s been taking insulin for Type 1 Diabetes for nearly 50 years. The formula has changed slightly during that time, the price has changed dramatically.

“This little bottle of insulin was $1.50 in 1972 when I was diagnosed. Today, the same size bottle of insulin is $330,” Devore said.

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(credit: CBS)

That’s a 220 percent increase for a drug that’s been around almost 100 years.

Rep. Dominique Jackson, a Democrat, says it’s time the state shed light on the issue.

“We’re just asking for some transparency so we can see what’s really going on,” she said.

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CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Rep. Dominique Jackson (D). (credit: CBS)

Jackson also introduced a bill that would require insurers to report the most expensive drugs, most prescribed drugs and those with the highest price increase each year.

The bill also requires drug companies to give 90 days notice before hiking a price and if it goes up 10 percent or more, to justify the increase.

Republican Rep. Kim Rankin says the bill will increase prices by increasing red tape.

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Rep. Kim Rankin (R) (credit: CBS)

“We can get together with the industry and possibly come up with solutions that don’t involve overregulation,” said Rankin.

Devore isn’t convinced the industry will voluntarily help out. And why would it?

“If they raised the price to $500 bottle, I don’t have a choice,” she said.

The bill is in committee on Thursday along with a bill prohibiting price gouging.

Both will have an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled senate, which has already killed bills on price gouging and Canadian drug imports.

But, a bill that would allow us to choose our pharmacies has promise. It has bi-partisan sponsors. Similar bills have passed other states and the pharmaceutical industry has sued, but so far, none of those court challenges have succeeded.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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