PRESS RELEASE: Prescription Drug Affordability Board one step closer to reality with Senate committee vote

Senate Finance, Insurance, and Consumer Protection Committee approves independent board to help lower costs for medications

LANSING — Michiganders are now one step closer to lowering the cost of life-saving medications following a Michigan Senate committee vote today on legislation creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB). 

Last week, a large contingent of patients and healthcare professionals and experts testified in support of legislation to hold Big Pharma accountable for the escalating costs of prescriptions, including support from the Michigan Association of Health Plans, Michigan State Medical Society, and AARP Michigan. By contrast, all those who submitted testimony against the bills are either funded by, or have close ties to, the pharmaceutical industry. 

And today, the Michigan Senate Finance, Insurance, and Consumer Protection Committee voted in favor of the three-bill package, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for in her fall address. Senate bills 483-485 now head to the Senate floor.  

“Creating an independent board to help rein in the high cost of prescription drugs is much-needed news for patients in Michigan,” said Dr. Farhan Bhatti, Lansing family physician and Michigan State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “The crisis of high-cost prescription medication has gone on for too long, putting my patients’ health and very lives at risk. It’s past time to do something about it. We appreciate senators who voted to hold Big Pharma accountable here in Michigan.” 

The bills would create a PDAB in Michigan, which would be an independent body that will research, review and establish upper payment limits (UPL) on the most expensive prescription drugs. 

Nonpartisan leaders and experts in health care economics, health policy, and clinical medicine with no personal or financial stake in the pharmaceutical industry would be appointed to the board, and there would be strict rules in place to prevent politicians, Big Pharma and health care industry or special interest groups from influencing the board’s decisions. 

“This board will be a forceful advocate for Michigan consumers at a time of high inflation to help make life-saving prescriptions more affordable for Michigan residents,” said Monique Stanton, President and CEO of Michigan League for Public Policy. “I want to thank the senators who supported this today and I look forward to seeing this passed by the full Senate soon.” 

“For decades, decisions on the cost of medications have been made in the dark, with no explanation or justification for them,” said Justin Mendoza, Executive Director of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (North America). “The PDAB will bring sunlight to this process and put this in the hands of experts, bringing much needed accountability, oversight and transparency to prescription costs for all Michiganders.” 

Six states have already established a PDAB to set upper payment limits on the most expensive prescription drugs and additional states are in the process of creating their own independent boards.