Media Release

(Baltimore, March 6, 2018)   Starting today, new radio ads will air across the state featuring Marylanders harmed by high cost prescription drugs. They will ask listeners to urge their legislators to support creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to make prescription drugs more affordable.  Listen to the three ads which feature John O’NeillSonia White, and Larry Zarzecki.

In addition, there will also be a hearing today before the House Health and Government Operations Committee at 1pm on HB 1194,  legislation to create aPrescription Drug Affordability Board, sponsored by Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk and seventy-eight other Delegates. The same bill in the Senate, SB 1023, sponsored by Senator Joan Carter Conway and twenty-two other Senators was heard by the Senate Finance Committee last week.

Prescription drugs costs are expected to rise 6.3% per year — faster than all other healthcare costs and three times faster than inflation. More and more Marylanders are not able to afford their medications. Below are statements by Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative and the Health Care For All! Coalition, and the Marylanders featured in the ads.

“Many people in Maryland cannot afford their prescription drugs.  Making medications more affordable is a top priority for Maryland voters,” said Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative and the Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition. “We look forward to working with the Maryland General Assembly, particularly our lead sponsors Senator Joan Carter Conway and Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk, to make all high cost prescription drugs more affordable for Marylanders.”

“I have heart problems that require several medications. Each time I fill my prescriptions, I’m blindsided by how much it costs. I can’t follow my doctor’s orders and take the medications as prescribed, because I can’t afford it. And the sad thing is, I know a lot of people who are worse off than I am, whose drugs cost a lot more and they have to make serious trade offs just to stay alive.” John O’Neill, Salisbury, MD

“I’m a cancer survivor and a full time caregiver for my husband after he had a brain aneurysm years ago. We are both in the midst of expensive courses of treatment over the next five years. I like that Maryland is trying to bring some transparency and accountability in what I’m learning is a big, complicated mess of a system, that in no way puts the need of the sick and vulnerable patients first. We need this bill, if only to get started in the important work of addressing all parts of the system that need reform.” Sonia White, Baltimore County, MD

“As a person with Parkinson’s, I really want to see more research and development for better treatments and cures. When a great new drug comes out, but no one can afford it, what good does it do? I like that this approach will help more people be able to afford treatments and help make sure that there is still plenty of support for developing great new medications.” Larry Zarzecki, Chester, MD

The Health Care for All! Coalition is a broad-based coalition of over 1200 faith, labor, business and community groups that have been working to guarantee all Marylanders access to quality, affordable health care.  To learn more, visit

Last modified: March 6, 2018