The state Department of Health would convene a group of stakeholders to examine ways to contain prescription drug costs, under legislation that passed the Senate unanimously today.

SB 6569, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, would bring together patient groups, hospitals, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the Health Care Authority, unions, businesses, biotechnology representatives and others to evaluate drug cost trends, impacts and other factors and report back to the Legislature with recommendations on ways to keep out-of-pocket costs down.

“More and more, I hear from constituents that it is ever more difficult to pay for their prescription drugs,” she said. “A great number of households simply cannot absorb the rising out-of-pocket drug prices. Many are forced to choose between paying for their prescriptions or paying for other essential items.

“The complexity of this problem requires that all parties come to the same table and share their knowledge. The best way to explore and develop solutions is to give all sides the opportunity to share their perspectives, gather and analyze data and thoroughly develop better policy options.”

Having passed the Senate, the bill now goes to the House for consideration there.