WFMD Radio Frederick, MD
Feb 15, 2018 

Annapolis, Md (KM). A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 28th before the Senate Finance Committee on a bill to establish a drug cost commission in Maryland. Vinnie DeMarco, the President of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, says the panel will make sure that prices patients pay for life-saving prescription drugs are reasonable. For medications which cost $30,000 or more annually, DeMarco says the pharmaceutical manufacturers  would need to explain their rationale to the commission. Its members would set a reasonable amount for patients to pay for their prescription drugs.

“Last year, under the leadership of Attorney General {Brian} Frosh, we were the first state in the nation to outlaw price gouging by manufacturers of generic and off-patient drugs,” says DeMarco. “We’re going to build on that this year by creating a drug cost commission which would make sure all prescription drugs, including brand name drugs, are more affordable for Marylanders.”

He says the argument that drug makers might make is that their costs of manufacturing continue to go up won’t be enough. “We know they spend a lot more on advertising than they do on research and development,” DeMarco responded. “And they spend a lot on CEO salaries, many millions.”

He says this legislation has a lot of co-sponsors, including State Senator Ron Young and Delegate Karen Lewis Young, both of Frederick. Even though they’re Democrats, DeMarco says this is not a partisan bill.. “We have members of both parties who are co-sponsors. Polls show that Democrats and Republicans all want  this passed. It’s a bipartisan bill,” he said.

Last year, Governor Larry Hogan let the bill outlawing price gouging  become law without his signature. “Governor Hogan also said that he thought the law needed to be strengthened by applying to brand new drugs which is what we’re trying to do with this new law,” says DeMarco.

“Legislators don’t need us to tell [them] that this is a problem. They hear from their constituents that prescription drug prices are way too high,” he says.

Last modified: February 16, 2018