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Legislation could bring prescription drug affordability board to Maryland

A prescription drug affordability board would be the first of its kind in the nation. However, the bill proposing it has changed. Instead of directly impacting every household, it now starts with state and local governments.

Taking to television airways to make the case to lower the cost of prescription drugs, a television ad is endorsing legislation to create a prescription drug affordability board. The board would regulate the cost of prescription drugs by setting limits on how much state and local governments pay for the medicine.

“You want to charge all this much for these drugs? Justify it,” said Vinnie DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative.

The five-member board would have the authority to review the cost of brand names that enter the market at $30,000 or more a year, existing brand names that increase in price by $3,000 or more per year or during the course of treatment and generic medications that increase by $300 more a year.

“The prescription drug affordability board created by this bill is a path-setter for the whole country,” said DeMarco.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America opposes the legislation. It contends it would enact price controls on medicine that can lead to delays in accessing prescriptions.

Officials with the group issued a statement saying the legislation “also overlooks the reality that insurers and other middlemen determine what patients pay out of pocket and what treatments they can get. At the same time it provides no real certainty that any individual will pay less for their medicine. “

“We need to start somewhere dealing with exorbitant prescription drug costs. Other countries pay a lot less for prescription drugs, the same drugs Americans use,” said DeMarco.

If the bill passes and is not rejected by Gov. Larry Hogan, lawmakers say, “come back in 2023, we’ll take a look at how its working and considering setting rates for medicines purchased by the general public.”