New law makes Colorado the first state to be able to set upper price limits for expensive prescription drugs

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Thanks to a bill enacted today by Governor Jared Polis (D-CO), Colorado is the first state in the country to give a non-partisan council the power to set price caps for prescription drugs. more expensive and require all insurers to apply the rates in their coverage.

The Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) will be made up of five non-partisan healthcare experts who will have the power to set payment ceilings for the most expensive prescription drugs, make recommendations to lawmakers on drug prices on order and investigate price increases.

“There is no silver bullet to fix everything, but this bill is a big step forward to help lower the cost of prescription drugs and save Coloradian money,” Polis said during the signing, which took place on the west steps of the State Capitol.

Colorado is the third state in the United States to establish a PDAB.

State Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver), one of the bill’s main sponsors, said her motivation to support a PDAB came from conversations she had with members of her community.

“When I heard constituents in my riding tell me about their fear of going to the doctor because they thought, ‘Why would I go to the doctor when the doctor is just going to prescribe something that I can’t? not allow myself, ‘I realized we had to do something,’ Gonzales said.

State Senator Julie Gonzales D-Denver explains why she wants to get the cost of prescription drugs under control.

Polis signed the bill in front of a group of lawmakers, patients, healthcare advocates and healthcare workers who have been fighting for the creation of a PDAB in Colorado for, in some cases, years.

“I’m proud of the people here,” Gonzales said. “Patients, advocacy organizations, health care experts, lawmakers, we have done the work to make history in the state of Colorado. And with the passage of the bill, with the signature of Governor Polis, I am delighted to return to my community and say, “All of you, we did it. “

Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a healthcare advocacy group that supported a PDAB for Colorado, was in the crowd behind Polis on Capitol Hill and provided a statement explaining how the Council can help consumers .

“This PDAB will provide relief to Colorado residents struggling with high prescription drug costs,” Fox said. “The Council will speak for them and stand against drug companies when they randomly try to raise the prices of unaffordable prescriptions.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in three Coloradians reported skipping doses or not filling a prescription because they couldn’t afford the cost. CCHI research has shown that a PDAB could save Coloradians up to 75% on the current costs of more expensive prescription drugs.

Gov. Jared Polis D-CO speaks to the crowd.

Dr. Allison Costello, a family medicine resident in Denver and a member of the Colorado chapter of the Committee to Protect Healthcare, a nationwide healthcare advocacy group, explained the urgent need to contain the cost prescription drugs.

“No patient should have to choose between paying for life-saving medicine and paying for groceries for their family,” Costello said. “With this legislation, Colorado residents will have more affordable access to these prescriptions and countless lives will be saved. We applaud Colorado lawmakers for putting the health and well-being of our patients – and all Coloradians – first. “

Strong opposition

The PDAB bill met with strong opposition from conservatives and drug companies, but also received support from public rallies featuring patients and healthcare workers demonstrating for a Colorado PDAB.

Additionally, over 70% of Coloradans said they would support the creation of a PDAB.

RELATED: Colorado Lawmakers Lead Multi-Frontal Attack on High Drug Costs

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a group representing companies in the pharmaceutical industry, has lobbied strongly against a PDAB, arguing that price limits could make it more difficult for patients to access the drugs they need. .

“Creating a council of unelected bureaucrats with the power to arbitrarily decide the value of drugs and drugs patients can get would be a disaster for patients,” said Hannah Loiacono, spokesperson for PhRMA. “Now more than ever, Colorado residents should have affordable access to the health care they need. Rather than focusing on dangerous policies that could compromise patient access and future innovation, policymakers should pursue common sense policies that put savings directly into the hands of patients.

Jennifer Jones Paton, president and CEO of the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA), a group representing the state’s bioscience companies that also opposes a Colorado PDAB, echoed Loiacono’s concerns in a communicated.

“We support policies that improve coverage, enable patients to receive breakthrough treatments and return savings directly to patients. This legislation does not achieve these goals, ”said Jones Paton. “State-imposed payment limits would negatively impact healthcare providers in our state, limit patient access to the same drugs subject to UPL, and reduce the capacity of life science companies. of Colorado to raise funds to finance the research, development and commercialization of new therapies. “

Colorado option

At the same ceremony, Polis enacted the Colorado Option, a bill that started out as a public option for health care coverage and has significantly evolved into a mechanism to reduce premium costs. 18% health insurance over the next three years.

“Tonight, Colorado families – especially those facing the sky-high costs of the most expensive drugs and those buying insurance in the small business and personal markets – will sleep a little easier thanks to the Colorado legislature. and Governor Polis, ”Fox said. “These two major policies, along with many other amazing bills this session, cement Colorado’s leadership in health care.”


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