PRESS RELEASE: Nonpartisan group of organizations support Gov. Whitmer’s call to lower prescription drug costs with Prescription Drug Affordability Board

Video of Dr. Rob Davidson’s remarks are available for download by the media. 

Committee to Protect Health Care logoPeople First logoMichigan Nurses Association logo

Michigan would join other states in creating independent board

LANSING, Mich. — A nonpartisan group of organizations applauded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for working to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Michigan residents through creation of an independent Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) as part of her “What’s Next” address today. 

The Michigan Prescription Drug Task Force found nearly a third of residents aged 19-64 stopped taking their prescriptions because of cost. Another survey found 27% of Michigan adults reported that they cut pills in half, skipped doses of medicine or did not fill a prescription during the prior 12 months due to cost.   

“Everyone knows someone who has not taken their prescribed medicine simply because of the cost or know of others who can barely afford to pay for their prescriptions,” said Hanna Schulze, President of People First Economy. “Michiganders are squeezed by the rising costs of their medications which are critical for their health and well-being, and small businesses are losing out on a talented, stable and healthy workforce because of prescription costs keeping health insurance costs out of reach. We can’t afford to continue doing nothing and expecting a different result, which is why we support Gov. Whitmer’s efforts to make prescription drugs more affordable through a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.” 

The governor outlined a series of priorities for lawmakers to address when they reconvene after Labor Day. When it comes to making prescriptions more affordable, Whitmer said, “Let’s establish an independent, nonpartisan Prescription Drug Affordability Board made up of leaders in economics, health care, supply chain, and academics. The board would use data and evidence-based research to tackle the cost of prescription drugs. We need to hold bad actors across the supply chain accountable for skyrocketing prices while also encouraging R&D for new treatments and cures—made right here in Michigan. No one should have to make impossible choices between getting better and paying the bills. Let’s get this done.” 

The address comes the same month two big drug companies reported billions in profits. Eli Lilly – maker of drugs Humalog KwikPen and Jardiance – reported a 28% increase in profits, totaling $8.3 billion this quarter. Meanwhile, Amgen – maker of the breast cancer drug Enbrel – raked in $7 billion for the quarter. 

Several states have created these independent boards to hold Big Pharma and their 1,800 lobbyists accountable. Big drug companies charge U.S. citizens up to four times higher than patients in other countries, sometimes forcing patients to cut pills and skip doses to make ends meet. 

“Doctors are grateful to Governor Whitmer for making a Prescription Drug Affordability Board a top priority, and we encourage the Legislature to act on this without delay,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, west Michigan emergency physician and the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Physicians across Michigan know how devastating it is for our patients’ health when they simply cannot afford the medicines we prescribe. Now lawmakers have a common-sense solution to rein in costs and improve our patients’ health and well-being.” 

“Big Pharma’s greed and unchecked power are driving prescription drug prices higher and higher,” said Jamie Brown, RN and president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “They spend hundreds of millions on lobbyists and pay their shareholders money that could be used to lower costs for Michigan residents taking prescription drugs. If other countries, like Canada, can have more affordable prescriptions, we should too.”   

Potential savings through programs like GoodRx are not enough, groups said. PDABs in other states set upper payment price limits. Many other states are currently developing plans to establish similar boards.    

“Establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board is crucial for benefiting all communities. But high drug prices perpetuate systemic racism by disproportionately harming BIPOC communities and contributing to poor health outcomes,” said Cle Jackson, President of the NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids. “We believe that a PDAB board will act as a watchdog, and review drug costs and establish fair and affordable pricing across the State of Michigan. This approach addresses racial inequities in drug affordability, benefiting low-income, uninsured, and people of color, leading to improved access to vital medications and better health outcomes.”