AUGUSTA, ME — After a series of unanimous votes today, Maine senators advanced legislation that would hold drug corporations accountable for exorbitant price hikes and allow for the safe importation of prescription drugs from Canada. A package of bills aimed at lowering drug prices now moves to the House floor.
“Today’s vote shows that Mainers are taking charge in the fight to lower drug prices,” said Ben Wakana, Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We applaud consumer groups and the state legislature's efforts to rein in drug prices, and we are proud patients are standing up against abusive pricing practices.”
In advance of today's votes, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now published a series of patient stories to underscore the urgency of the drug pricing crisis in Maine. Additionally, four patients testified at an April hearing, and Mainers were given the tools to contact their legislators in support of the proposed changes.
Here’s how the pending legislation would benefit Mainers:
LD 1162: Would require drug manufacturers to disclose the costs to develop, produce, and market certain drugs, and would build on a law passed last year that requires the Maine Health Data Organization to post the most expensive and commonly prescribed drugs in Maine.
LD 1272: Would create a state-administered program to import wholesale drugs from Canada, which could then be purchased at a significant discount. Under the program, Mainers would save millions on prescription drugs.
LD 1504: Would implement transparency between manufacturers, PBMs, and consumers. It would require that PBMs pass their rebates on to consumers or insurers to lower premiums. Consumers also must be offered the cash price of a drug if it is lower than their copay.
LD 1499: Would create the Maine Prescription Drug Affordability Board, an independent body with the authority to determine specific prescription drug spending targets based on a 10-year average.
Lori Dumont of Brewer: “My brother suffered ketoacidosis because he could not afford his insulin. Like so many others, his insulin costs were out of control. For both his long term and short term insulin he was paying about $1,500 a month. On a fixed income, high drug prices are literally a matter of life and death.”
Sabrina Burbeck of Old Town: “When my youngest son was 18 months old he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In order to survive, he relies on Humalog Insulin. One vial of Humalog costs $350.”
Glenda Smith of Kennebunk: “My Symbicort, Lostatin, Spiriva, and other medications cost me more than $1,200/month, not to mention the $5,000 we have to pay out of pocket before insurance even begins to pay its portion. That is not realistic on our fixed income. My drug costs alone are more than my entire Social Security check.”
Christina Raymond of Limestone: “In order to manage my disease, I require several medications –– Lupron, Tamoxifen, and Neulasta –– in addition to my regular chemo treatments. Lupron costs me $1,500 per month and my Neulasta runs $6,000 per shot.”