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Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative

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Join The Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative!

 

Today, hundreds of thousands of Marylanders are newly covered with access to a wide range of benefits and services, including prescription drugs.

However, expensive life-saving drugs– some of which are close to six figures for treatment– threaten to derail the progress made in expanding coverage.

Prescription drugs account for one of the fastest-growing segments of health spending in the U.S. Nationally, we’ve seen figures that indicate spending on high-cost drugs alone is expected to more than quadruple from $87 billion dollars in 2012 to $400 billion in 2020. Containing rising health care costs means containing prescription drug prices.

In Maryland, we successfully advocated for the landmark prescription drug price gouging law that is awaiting signature by Governor Hogan.  This law would grant Attorney General Brian Frosh the authority to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for “unconscionable” increases in generic or off-patent drugs.  Once fully implemented, this measure has the potential to rein in rising health care costs, reduce health insurance premiums and promote more equitable health outcomes.

An “unconscionable” price increase is one which is excessive and unjustified, and which results in harm to consumers because of the importance of the drug to their health and because there is insufficient market competition to ensure access to the drug.

If the Attorney General determines that unconscionable price gouging has occurred, the Attorney General must allow a manufacturer or wholesaler the opportunity to meet with the Attorney General to discuss the matter before taking legal action. The Attorney General may then go to State Circuit Court, which can provide these remedies:

  1. Require the manufacturer or wholesaler to provide relevant information sought by the Attorney General,
  2. Issue an order restraining or enjoining price gouging activities,
  3. Restore money to consumers lost as a result of price gouging,
  4. Require the manufacturer to make the drug available to participants in Medicaid and other state health programs at the pre gouging price for up to a year,
  5. Impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation.

The statute would also:

  1. authorize the Medicaid Department of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide notification to the Attorney General of certain drug price increases;
  2. make clear that wholesale distributors cannot be held liable for price increases directly attributable to the manufacturer:
  3. and, protect the confidentiality of certain information provided to the Attorney General by manufacturers or wholesalers.

More information on Maryland’s landmark price gouging measure:

 

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