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Tackling Rising Prescription Drug Prices in Maryland

Rising prescription drug prices affect individuals, employers, and all levels of government. As pharmaceutical manufacturers kick off the new year with their annual price hikes, Maryland is stepping up its efforts to tackle the problem head-on.

According to research conducted by the nonprofit organization 46brooklyn, over 700 medications saw a 4.5% price increase in January. While this uptick may be modest compared to previous years, the effect continues to exacerbate the affordability crisis of prescription drugs.

Legislators in Maryland have seen the gravity of the situation, and how pressure from prescription drug companies have contributed to higher costs. As a result, the affordability of life-sustaining medications is compromised, affecting not only individuals but also state and commercial health plan budgets.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, in 2019, Maryland established the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The board is tasked with evaluating the affordability of prescription medications, and to establish measures to decrease the financial burden of medications on both the public sector and private citizens.

The Prescription Drug Affordability Board identifies new prescription drugs exceeding $30,000 per year, significant price increases for medications, and any drugs that strain the Maryland health system.

Recently, the board developed a framework for evaluating prescription drug prices for public sector workers. This involves analyzing data from manufacturers, soliciting public feedback, and consulting with industry stakeholders. With a list of over 2,000 drugs under consideration for cost reductions, the board is ready to make an impact on prescription drug affordability.

The board may also implement top payment limits on prescription drugs purchased by governments for state and local insurance plans. The aim is to mitigate the financial strain on government budgets.

Advocates are now urging the state to expand its prescription cost reviews to benefit all consumers statewide. By extending the scope of affordability evaluations beyond the public sector, Maryland can address the broader issue of prescription drug affordability and access to vital medications for its residents.

Story by AFT Maryland Staff


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