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Media Advisory: Federal and State Officials to Lead Virtual Community Forum About Rising Drug Prices in Baltimore City

December 3, 2020                                          

Reps. Ruppersberger and Sarbanes, Legislative Leaders and Baltimore City Health Officer and Member of Prescription Drug Affordability Board to Take Part in Virtual Listening Session

WHAT: Virtual Community Forum to Discuss Rising Drug Prices
WHO:  U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger MD-2nd District
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes MD-3rd District
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa
Gerard Anderson, Member, Prescription Drug Affordability Board
Maryland Sen. Brian Feldman, District 15
Maryland Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, District 21
Maryland Del. Brooke Lierman, District 46
Vincent DeMarco, President, Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative
Jim Gutman, Lead Advocacy Volunteer for Prescription Drugs, Maryland AARP

WHEN: Monday, December 7, 2020, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Zoom Video Webinar

Note: Individuals interested in attending should register here.

Presented in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

U.S. Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes will join the Baltimore City Health Commissioner, a member of the Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board, legislative leaders and advocates in a virtual community forum and listening session about rising drug costs in Baltimore city. This is the sixth forum in a series of events around the state to hear from the public about the burden of paying for their medications. This will be the final forum of 2020.

The community comments gathered at the Dec. 7th event will help inform the work of Congress, the General Assembly and the Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which was established by the legislature in 2019. The board has begun its work by reviewing drug costs in the state and hearing public concerns about the affordability of medications. More information about the Board can be found at pdab.maryland.gov.

“I know that many Marylanders cannot afford the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy,” said Rep. Ruppersberger. “This community forum will give us a chance to hear directly from people about their struggles to pay for their medications, and I urge residents to join in and share their stories.”

“Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and too many people in our state are being hit with drug costs that continue to go higher,” Rep. Sarbanes said. “We will continue to work in Congress to find solutions to bring down those costs and give people peace of mind.”

“Public input is critical to the Board’s work,” said Professor Gerard Anderson, a member of Maryland’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board. “I appreciate the feedback we’ve received from Marylanders around the state and look forward to hearing from Baltimore City residents as the full board works to address high cost prescription drugs.”

“Lowering prescription drug cost is a top priority for AARP MD. High drug prices disproportionately hurt older Marylanders, who take an average of four to five prescription drugs per month,” said Jim Gutman, the lead advocacy volunteer for prescription drugs with Maryland AARP.

The input from the public at the forum will inform the work of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which has the authority to examine the high cost of prescription drugs and ascertain how to make these costs more affordable for Marylanders. In the next couple of years, the Board will have the authority to establish procedures to make high cost drugs more affordable for state and local governments. By 2023, the Board will be required to make recommendations to the Maryland General Assembly on how to make high cost drugs more affordable for all Marylanders.  Many states across the country are working to replicate Maryland’s landmark new law.

Taking part in the Dec. 7th event is Professor Gerard F. Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management and a member of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The five-member board is chaired by Van Mitchell, a former state Health Secretary. Other members include Ebere Onukwugha, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Dr. George S. Malouf Jr., an ophthalmologist and leader of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, and Johns Hopkins Professor Joseph Levy.

Enoch Pratt Free Library

The Enoch Pratt Free Library, the nation’s first free library system, opened its doors in 1886, the result of the generosity and imagination of businessman and philanthropist Enoch Pratt. Mr. Pratt envisioned a public library where “races, ages, and socio-economic classes mingled and people could educate themselves – without cost,” and his passionate belief continues to guide the organization. Today’s Pratt Library – Baltimore’s public library and the Maryland State Library Resource Center – consists of the Central Library, 21 branches, two bookmobiles, the Mobile Job Center, the Pratt Centers for Technology Training, and the Regional Information Center. The Library’s mission is to empower, enrich, and enhance the quality of life for all through equitable access to information, services, and opportunity.

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