PRESS RELEASE: Nurses, doctors, patients testify in favor of creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board

Establishing a PDAB would help tackle the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs

LANSING — Nurses, doctors, healthcare experts and patients joined a broad-based group of individuals and organizations who submitted testimony in support of legislation to hold Big Pharma accountable for the escalating costs of prescription drugs and help many Michiganders struggling to afford life-saving medications.  

The Michigan Senate Finance, Insurance, and Consumer Protection Committee heard testimony today on this critical piece of legislation, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called for in her fall address. 

Senate bills 483-485 would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) in Michigan, an independent body that will set upper payment limits on prescriptions. 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. 

Dr. Rob Davidson, of the Committee to Protect Health Care, spoke about the struggles he has seen patients face as they have had to forgo taking medications due to high costs. 

“In some cases, they’re patients I may have just prescribed medications a few weeks earlier, but wound up back in my emergency department because they simply couldn’t pay for their prescription drugs,” Davidson said. “At the end of the day, as physicians, we want all patients and their families to be able to get the medications they need, at a cost they can afford.” 

Justin Mendoza, the executive director of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, echoed concerns of the high cost of medications, especially those that were partially developed using taxpayer dollars. 

“High drug prices have detrimental health effects for individuals, forcing them into impossible choices,” Mendoza said. “The PDAB will create common sense rules of the road so that the patients can be protected, rather than just the interests of drug company shareholders and CEOs.” 

A PDAB would research, review and establish upper payment limits (UPL) on the most expensive prescription drugs. The Board would have the authority to review prescription drug costs and evaluate their impact on Michiganders. The UPL applies to all purchases and payments for that specific drug intended for sale in Michigan, to help ensure savings reach the consumer. Like with any public board, the public can weigh in and provide comments to a PDAB. 

Anne Jackson, a pediatric nurse with 40 years of experience and a member of the Michigan Nurses Association shared with the committee the impact nurses see every day due to the high costs. 

“It is not the cost of the raw materials that have increased the cost to patients, it is the desire of profit,” Jackson said in testimony submitted to the committee. “Your support for these bills to potentially limit the high cost of drugs will save our state and our population millions of dollars.”  

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

Watch the hearing here.