Despite massive spending on lobbying and campaign contributions, the big pharmaceutical companies are slowly losing their grip on state legislatures across the country. In Maryland, Maine, Oregon and Colorado, consumers, patients, public health advocates and providers demanding more affordable prescription drugs have successfully pushed through landmark legislation that will finally help manage the uncontrollable costs of drugs.
The New Mexico legislature is expected to build on this momentum and pass an upcoming session of the Prescription Drug Accessibility Council to help lower the cost of health care and benefit all New Mexicans.
The heartbreaking stories we have all heard about family members, friends and neighbors who continue to struggle to afford the drugs they need are backed up by data. A statewide survey by GBAO Strategies found that nearly half of New Mexicans (44%) forgot to take medication or did not fill a prescription due to cost issues. Even during the pandemic, pharmaceutical manufacturers continued to raise the price of drugs above the rate of inflation. In 2020, the prices of 460 prescription drugs rose an average of 5.2%, more than triple the rate of inflation, according to an analysis by healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors.
Researchers writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “between 2000 and 2018, 35 large pharmaceutical companies received combined revenue of $ 11.5 trillion, with gross profit of $ 8.6 trillion.” Yes, 8.6 thousand billion, and it shatters our health care system.
Prescription drug companies are the only companies in the healthcare industry whose prices are not regulated. It’s time to keep them on par with all other health care providers. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and New Mexico needs an independent body with the power to assess high-priced drugs and set prices reasonable for consumers.
That is why we are introducing legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in New Mexico. The council would help establish reasonable payment costs for drugs, given a range of economic factors, and would require companies to justify drug costs. Once a fair payment is determined, the board would set an upper payment limit that would apply to all drug buyers and payers reimbursements in the state, ensuring lower costs for the benefit of consumers. This system would be similar to how other reimbursement rates for health services are set by Medicare.
Our legislation would establish various conditions that would trigger an affordability review, including when prices increase by more than 10% per year, or exceed $ 30,000 per year for brand name drugs or $ 100 per month for generics per person. . Patients or consumer advocates could also suggest drugs for consideration.
The state regulates the cost of health insurance, electricity and other essential utilities, and it should also pay attention to consumers of prescription drugs. Americans pay four times as much for the same drugs as people in other countries. Pharmaceutical company profits and CEO salaries have skyrocketed over the past two decades as consumers have been forced to pay more. New Mexico can fight back and protect our most vulnerable. At the next session, we should create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.
State Senator Jeff Steinborn represents District 36 and State Representative Angelica Rubio represents District 35 of DoÃ±a Ana County.