ANNAPOLIS — In a groundbreaking move, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 98-40 to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, an independent body with the authority to evaluate high-cost prescription drugs and set rates for state and local governments to pay. The bill, HB 768, now moves to the Maryland Senate Finance Committee with a chance to set a model for the nation and fundamentally reshape how states address skyrocketing prescription drug prices.
“Maryland residents have been sending letters and making calls to lawmakers in support of the state’s effort to get a better deal on prescription drugs,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We all pay for Pharma’s unfettered greed, and Maryland residents are struggling to fill both the kitchen pantry and the medicine cabinet. The status quo needs to change, and the Prescription Drug Affordability Board can be a national model.”
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board bill, sponsored by Senator Katherine Klausmeier and Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk would:
Create a five-member board to review new brand-name prescription drugs that enter the market at $30,000 or more per year or course of treatment. It would also review existing brand name medications that increase in price by $3,000 or more.
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board would evaluate high drug costs and make recommendations for reasonable rates.
In January, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now launched a five-figure campaign to give Maryland residents tools to contact their elected officials in support of measures to address rising drug prices. The interactive digital tools allow residents to contact their senators and representatives in support of the proposed changes. P4ADNow is working in support of the legislation along with partners including the Maryland Health Care For All Coalition, AARP Maryland, and the NAACP.
According to recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 25 percent of Americans say they trust drug corporations to price their products fairly, down from 41 percent in 2008.
Stahis Panagides is a Marylander, Parkinson’s patient, and Medicare recipient whose life has been directly impacted by skyrocketing prescription drug prices.
“My doctor recently prescribed Rytary to mitigate my disease. But even with my robust Medicare plan, I am not able to afford the $400 monthly price tag on this drug. It’s heartbreaking to know that there’s a drug out there that could treat my symptoms, but I can’t access it because the price is just too high,” Stahis told Patients For Affordable Drugs Now.
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now is a bipartisan national patient organization focused exclusively on policies to lower drug prices. To maintain its independence, the group does not accept donations from organizations that profit from the development and distribution of prescription drugs.