Lawmaker tackles Michigan increasing prescription drug cost


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The effort to lower the price of prescription drugs is front and center at the state Capitol as a democratic senator from West Michigan is pushing to create an oversight board to help change that.

“I have patients who have to decide between medications and putting food on the table for their families. This is not right,” said Dr. Ijeoma Opara, pediatric physician and assistant professor at Wayne State University.

That was the message Thursday as physicians and lawmakers unveiled a new plan for a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

“People being able to get the medicine that they need due to cost increases is becoming more and more unaffordable,” Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, said.

The board would govern the price of certain medications here in our state. Supporters say it’s needed now more than ever.

In January, GoodRx reported that list prices for brand-name drugs increased by 4.6% and generic drugs increased by 4.2% since last year.

As drug prices increase, so do co-pays. Traci Cornwell, a Bath Township mom, says her co-pay for her sons’ epilepsy medications increased from $30 to $60 in the last few months.

Brinks says Michigan can learn a lot of from the state of Maryland, which has a similar board.

Vinnie Demarco of Maryland’s Citizen’s Health Initiative says they use an upper payment limit. Wholesalers will negotiate with manufacturers to “establish a discount off the list price, so the wholesaler can supply the drug in the Michigan market.”

“Our board and we hope your board will say this is what we determine what is affordable for Marylanders and that’s what they would pay for the high-cost drugs,” Demarco said.

While Brinks says this won’t solve the problem, it’s a step in the right direction.

“When we see increases in drug prices, that seem just off the charts. There should be a way for us to hold those manufacturers of those drugs accountable and ensure that people get the medicine they need at a price that is right,” she said.

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