FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Vincent DeMarco, 410-591-9162 May 24, 2019
Prescription Drug Affordability Board Legislation to Become Law,
Giving Maryland a Powerful Tool to Bring Down Soaring Costs of Lifesaving Medications
Governor Hogan allows measure to go into effect
Maryland legislation to create the nation’s first Prescription Drug Affordability Board will become law, giving the state a tool to establish maximum costs for certain drugs purchased by state and local governments. Governor Larry Hogan announced today he would neither veto nor sign the measure, which means it will go into effect July 1st.
This new Prescription Drug Affordability Board will have the authority to establish costs for some of the most expensive medications that state and local governments purchase for their employees and programs.
“This is a great victory for the people of Maryland. The Prescription Drug Affordability Board will be the first government entity in the United States created to lower the cost of drugs. We thank Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk and the Maryland General Assembly for enacting this measure and we look forward to working hard to make sure it is fully implemented,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, which led the effort to pass the legislation. “We believe our progress in Maryland will be a springboard for action in other states and at the national level to help ensure that Americans can afford the medicines they critically need. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and we are going to do all we can to make them affordable.”
The measure will help state and local governments reduce expenditures on certain high-cost drugs, freeing up public funds for other needs, such as education. The new five-member board will also play an important role by recommending action Maryland should take to make drugs more affordable for all Marylanders.
Maryland’s seven major county executives, Democrat and Republican, along with the mayor of Baltimore City strongly supported the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation, recognizing that drug costs are eating up an ever-larger share of their annual budgets.
“This legislation promises to bring down the costs that governments are paying for drugs, which will benefit taxpayers,” DeMarco said. “This Board will be a public watchdog and establish fair and affordable costs for state and local governments.”
The measure received overwhelming support in the General Assembly, despite an intense lobbying effort by the pharmaceutical industry.
The legislation enacted into law was sponsored in the House of Delegates by Delegate Peña-Melnyk (Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties), and a companion measure was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Katherine Klausmeier (Baltimore County).