PRESS RELEASE: Michigan Prescription Drug Affordability Board Will Rein in Rising Costs of Life-Saving Drugs

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Senate legislation will hold Big Pharma accountable with creation of new board 

LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 12, 2023) — Today, a group of Michigan Senators introduced a bill package to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in Michigan (PDAB) — an independent body that will set upper payment limits on prescriptions and hold Big Pharma accountable so Michigan residents can afford their life-saving medications. 

Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton), Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) and Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe) introduced Senate Bills 483, 484 and 485 that would establish a PDAB to help make life-saving prescriptions more affordable for Michigan residents and make pharmaceutical companies more accountable to the people of Michigan. 

In her recent “What’s Next” address, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the creation of a PDAB as a way to lower prescription drug costs for Michigan residents. 

“As I talk to my Downriver constituents and Michiganders across the state, I’ve heard countless stories about how the high cost of prescription drugs is a growing crisis for so many,” Sen. Camilleri said. “At the same time big pharmaceutical companies continue to reap record profits with little accountability. This cannot continue. It is time for Michigan to take a stand against Big Pharma’s corporate greed and create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.” 

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. 

Nonpartisan leaders in economics, health care, the supply chain and academics 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. 

“In 2020, while we were in the midst of a global pandemic and the cost of everything began to rise, 500 prescription drugs skyrocketed by two times the rate of inflation in Michigan,” Sen. McDonald Rivet said. “This corporate greed at the expense of our health and livelihoods must stop. As other states create similar legislation to address this problem, it’s time for us to do the same in Michigan and hold Big Pharma accountable.” 

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.  

“The Michigan Prescription Drug Task Force found nearly a third of residents aged 19 to 64 stopped taking their prescriptions because of the cost,” Sen. Klinefelt said. “We can bring down the cost of prescription drugs for people of all ages. I look forward to working with my fellow lawmakers to create a PDAB so we can rein in the rising costs of prescription drugs here in Michigan.” 

“Physicians across Michigan know how devastating it is for our patients’ health when they simply cannot afford the medicines we prescribe,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Doctors are grateful to Governor Whitmer and members of the Senate for making a Prescription Drug Affordability Board a top priority, and we encourage the entire Legislature to act on this without delay. It’s time the pharmaceutical industry is held accountable for its corporate greed and exorbitant costs. As people wake up to the damage Big Pharma is causing, we must build on this momentum to achieve the best results for Michiganders by creating a PDAB.”  

 “Over the years, both through my professional observations and supported by academic research, I’ve noticed that the rising costs of prescriptions creates further health disparities — some people have access and others don’t,” said Linda Vail, a public health advocate. “Health should be a right not a privilege. It breaks my heart when patients realize they can’t afford a life-saving medication.” 

“When I heard that big pharmaceutical companies oppose a PDAB, I knew it was the right choice for Michigan,” said Sarah Stark, a patient advocate. “I urge our elected officials to create a PDAB so we can rein in these skyrocketing costs so that everyone can afford their medication.” 

“The number one reason seniors skip or ration their prescriptions is because they can’t afford them. This must stop,” said Paula Cunningham, AARP Michigan State Director. “We cannot allow older Michiganders to be the cash machine for big drug companies. AARP supports opening up the books and making the drug companies accountable for increasing prices year after year.” 

 

Photos by Shannon Schultz, Senate Majority Communications