Trending News Today: Legislators Call for Drug Pricing Transparency

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Legislation to make drug pricing more transparent has been reintroduced by a California lawmaker, according to California Healthline. State Sen Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), who chairs the state Senate Committee on Health, announced a bill that would require pharmaceutical companies to notify private insurers and state health programs before they increase the prices on a drug. A similar bill was dropped by Hernandez during the last session, because he was dissatisfied with amendments that raised the threshold for reporting, according to Healthline. Hernandez said legislation that improves the transparency of drug pricing is even more critical in the aftermath of the presidential election.

On Wednesday, the Senate approved the $6.3 million 21st Century Cures research bill by an overwhelming vote of 94-5. According to the Los Angeles Times, the bill would provide the National Institutes of Health with $4.8 billion to support research efforts such as the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which was introduced by outgoing Vice President Joe Biden. The bill will also provide the FDA with an additional $500 million in funding to streamline the drug review process. Furthermore, the legislation will advance federal initiatives that have sat dormant for years, including new funding to combat the opioid epidemic, the LA Times reported. Other areas of the bill will support steps designed to strengthen the mental health system by coordinating treatment research, keeping mentally ill patients out of the criminal justice system, and supporting community efforts to reduce homelessness.

Life expectancy in the United States declined for the first time in more than 2 decades, The Washington Post reported. This decline is attributed to various health issues, such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes, accidents, drug overdoses, and other conditions. In the National Center for Health Statistics report, death rates rose for 8 of the 10 top leading causes of death. Life expectancy dropped by one-tenth of a year from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015. US life expectancy at birth has not experienced a decline since 1993, according to the study. Overall, the death rate grew 1.2% in 2015, which is the first reported increase since 1999. More than 2.7 million individuals died, with about 45% of these deaths attributed to cancer or heart disease, the Post reported.