A new piece of legislation aimed at stopping the “unconscionable” spikes in drug pricing has been passed with enthusiastic bipartisan support in Maryland.
The bill, which was passed 38-7 in the Senate and 137-2 in the House of Representatives, would allow the state’s attorney general to seek legal action against pharmaceutical companies for price gouging life-saving medications. Should the Maryland Medicaid authority believe that a patient is being charged an unnecessary amount of money for an essential pharmaceutical, the attorney can investigate the claim made against the drug manufacturer.
Should the bill be passed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, it will be one of the first pieces of legislation to take action against pharmaceutical price gouging in the United States.
The most noted examples of price gouging during the last few years was the hedge fund manager of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, buying the rights to a medication known as Daraprim. Shkreli then upped the price of the drug, which is an essential medication used for treating AIDS, from $13 to $750. Thankfully, Baum Pharmaceuticals was able to create a generic which they then marketed for $1.
The same pharmaceutical company came to the rescue of patients in need of allergy medication after Mylan Pharmaceuticals upped the price of the Epipen to $400 – which is 600% more than they were originally marketed for.
“When a drug company doubles or triples – or multiplies by 50 – the price of medication, it imperils the health and finances of patients and their families, and it threatens public health,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, according to CBS News. “The new law will give Maryland a necessary tool to combat unjustified and extreme prices for medicines that have long been on the market and that are essential to our health and well-being.”
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Reprint (Photo by Gatis Gribusts, CC)