En español | Maine consumers can expect to see some relief from the high cost of prescription drugs under a series of bills Gov. Janet Mills signed into law on Monday.
The four measures add to a growing number of laws enacted in states across the country in response to voters, who have made it clear that lowering the cost of prescription drugs continues to be a major issue for them. The package includes bills AARP has strongly supported as part of the organization's Stop Rx Greed campaign, launched this spring.
"Mainers have told us time and again that we must address the rising costs of prescription medications,” says Lori Parham, AARP Maine state director. “Together, these bills will bring transparency to the process and start to address Rx costs for Maine families who often have to decide between food, medicine, and heating their homes in winter."
The four bills Mills signed Monday include:
- A measure to establish a prescription drug importation program. This bill is modeled after the measure Vermont passed in 2018 and makes Maine the third state to approve such a measure this year. Governors in Colorado and Florida have signed similar bills. Like the other states, Maine must submit an application by May 1, 2020, to the federal Department of Health and Human Services to begin such a program. This legislation also directs state health officials to consider whether Maine's importation program may be developed in conjunction with other states.
- A provision to strengthen the state's drug transparency law to require brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers to annually report any price increases of more than 20 percent and for generic manufacturers to report 20 percent price hikes for medicines that cost at least $10 per pill or other unit.
- A bill creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board would determine prescription drug spending targets and would suggest ways to lower drug costs through measures such as bulk purchasing, leveraging multistate purchasing, or negotiating specific rebate amounts.
- A measure to require pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to pass along to consumers all rebates they receive from drugmakers, and to direct PBMs to offer the cash price of a medicine to a consumer if it is lower than the patient's insurance copayment.
"Our work isn't finished,” Parham says. “Maine leaders responded and worked together to Stop Rx Greed. Now we need our members of Congress to do the same."