Our American States
When it comes to prescription drug policy, many lawmakers have focused efforts on reducing the cost of drugs to their constituents, such as limiting the copayment on insulin, or to their state budgets, as in the case of a reverse auction for a pharmacy benefit management contract.
Although these policies may lower costs, they do not alter a drug’s list price. Additionally, these laws only apply to people with health insurance. For uninsured or underinsured patients, they may be responsible for the full price of the drug. When it comes to drug pricing, legislators are considering a wide array of strategies to address this concern.
Our two guests on this podcast offer perspective on the route their state took. Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk is a Democrat from Maryland and Representative Tom Oliverson is a Republican from Texas. Both have backed legislation intended to make the price of prescription drugs more transparent.
Texas, along with nearly a dozen other states, is requiring reporting from manufacturers on price increases or initial launch prices, with some also requiring pricing and cost data from health plans, PBMs and wholesalers. Oliverson said that approach in Texas is already revealing useful information about rebates and other issues affecting the cost to consumers.
Maryland pioneered the idea of prescription drug affordability boards, or PDABs, to study drug prices, particularly for drugs that pose affordability issues for state, public and private programs. Pena-Melnyk explained how this sort of nongovernmental agency can examine drug pricing and costs in the state and how the system has worked in Maryland since it passed in 2019. Six other states have adopted similar legislation.