Text: MARYLAND CITIZENS' HEALTH INITIATIVE
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Proposals would address skyrocketing prescription drug prices

BALTIMORE —A health care advocacy group announced Thursday a prescription to address skyrocketing drug prices.

The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative wants to make drug companies disclose how they come up with prices and give the state attorney general the authority to go after price gouging.

High drug prices are a bitter pill to swallow for those who are ill.

“Skyrocketing prices makes it unavailable to many people. We need to do something about prescription drug price increases,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative came up with three proposals that it will try to push through the General Assembly. One requires drug companies to disclose how they come up with the prices of their products, and how much they spend on production, research and advertising.

Another initiative mandates drug companies notify the public if they plan to increase the price by 10 percent or more.

The final provision authorizes the state attorney general to take legal action to prevent price gouging.

“Our prescription drug affordability initiative is good policy and good politics,” DeMarco said.

An OpinionWorks LLC poll backs up that claim, showing 84 percent of respondents favor prescription drug transparency, 89 percent favor price increase notification and 84 percent favor the attorney general taking legal action. The OpinionWorks poll finds support for all three provisions across party lines.

“One could consider the support for these three provisions to be a mandate,” said Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks.

According to the poll, voters see a link between high prescription drug costs and increasing health insurance rates. The survey finds voters are taking this issue personally and will vote for the candidate regardless of party affiliation who supports prescription drug affordability legislation.

 

“I will tell you, in my experience in polling on issues, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this kind of voter swing and opinion based upon a single issue,” Raabe said.

Supporters expect significant pushback from drug companies. Coincidentally, a top pharmaceutical lobbying group is spending as much as $5 million on ads defending drug makers under fire for their pricing practices.

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