Navigating the Maze of Prescription Drug Costs: Are State Boards Making a Difference?

April 29, 2024

In the ongoing saga of rising prescription drug costs, state boards were created to curb these expenses – and many patients were hopeful. Five years later, many people still aren’t seeing savings – despite the efforts of states like Colorado and Maryland, which have taken steps to rein in drug prices. So, why the delay, and what does this mean for your health care costs?

The state boards have faced their share of challenges. Political obstacles, staunch resistance from the pharmaceutical industry, and bureaucratic complexities have all contributed to the sluggish progress. Mark Miller, executive vice president at Arnold Ventures, aptly captured the situation, telling Axios, “It is a valid question to ask why states are only now grappling with price caps after years of deliberation.”

While 10 states have established drug affordability boards, their effectiveness varies. In Colorado, the board became the first to implement a payment limit and will soon consider a price ceiling for a drug that costs, on average, more than $46,000 per year. In Maryland, the board will soon scrutinize certain drug costs for the first time. Washington and Minnesota can do the same, but haven’t yet. Boards in other states can make recommendations to lawmakers on how to lower drug costs or negotiate Medicaid rebates.

The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, has opposed these initiatives, citing concerns about access to medications and alleging unfair targeting. Drugmakers are also expected to sue to block payment limits set by the state boards.

If you’re sick of rising prescription drug costs, here’s your chance to fight back. Share your story with us here and, if you’re in Oregon, tell the State’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board that prescriptions cost too much!