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BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

Massachusetts is the latest state trying to bring high drug costs under control

Generic drugs costPharmaceutical companies claim that the costs of developing new, ground-breaking medications is why high drug prices are passed on to insurance companies and to you, the patient.

However, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says only a few drugs have extremely high costs, and he wants drug manufacturers to be legally required to explain those costs. Or at least create a process to help determine an appropriate and reasonable price.

CommonWealth Magazine reports that Baker has included a proposal in his 2020 budget that would allow MassHealth, the state-run comprehensive health insurance program and its second- largest insurer, to negotiate drug prices directly with drug manufacturers. The proposal also states that MassHealth could establish a “target value” for specific drugs using a public rate-setting process.

Drugs that cost $25,000 per person a year or $10 million in the aggregate annually could prompt a review by a Public Health Commission where the company would be required to publicly justify the price. The state attorney general could also prosecute drug companies under consumer protection laws.

Baker’s proposal comes as MassHealth’s pharmacy budget has grown nearly twice as fast as its other services the past four years — 9 percent annual growth vs 4 percent.

A number of other states, including California, Nevada, Oregon and Maryland are also beginning to act on reforms to address prescription drug prices.

Has your state proposed solutions? Have these policies had an effect on the cost of your drugs? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.