April 5, 2019

Senate Moves to Create Prescription Drug Affordability Board

A Friday vote saw Maryland Senators pass legislation that creates a statewide prescription drug affordability board to better monitor state drug prices. Senate Bill 759 from Senate President Pro Tempore Katherine Klausmeier (District 8 – Baltimore County) creates transparency in prescription drug pricing formulas and seeks to provide an avenue to make drugs more affordable for all Maryland residents. In a recent press conference for the legislation, Klausmeier stated: “It comes to a point when everyone needs medicine in their lives.” She followed: “If you can’t afford it, it doesn’t do you any good.”

The bill creates a five-person board. One member each will be appointed by the Governor, the Attorney General, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the Chair of the Board will be appointed jointly by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates. The Board will meet at least once every six weeks to review prescription drug information and to evaluate prices charged to Maryland consumers. If the prices charged to consumers are deemed excessive, the Board will then be charged with recommending the State to seek legal remedy.

Joining President Pro Tempore Klausmeier is sponsoring the legislation is the only medical doctor in the Maryland Senate, Dr. Clarence Lam (District 12 – Howard and Baltimore Counties). The legislation also boasts broad support from numerous advocacy organizations including the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative as well as local chapters of both the NAACP and the AARP.

In summarizing the need for the legislation, the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative recently stated: “High costs can prevent Maryland patients from accessing the prescription drugs they need, cause significant affordability issues for the state, and threaten public health.”

Senate Bill 759 now also heads to the House of Delegates for consideration. All legislation must successfully pass both the Senate and the House of Delegates by Sine Die (at midnight on Tuesday, April 9th) to be sent to Governor Hogan to either approve or veto.

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