Maryland’s new prescription drug board meets for first time

Oxycodone is the generic name for a range of opoid pain killing tablets. Prescription bottle for Oxycodone tablets and pills on glass table with reflections(Getty Images/iStockphoto/BackyardProduction)

A unique state board in Maryland that will investigate and work to bring down the cost of overly expensive prescription drugs is meeting for the first time Monday in Annapolis.

The Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board was created through legislation that was passed last year in the General Assembly.

It is “an independent body with the authority to evaluate expensive drugs and recommend appropriate methods for addressing these costs,” according to the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative Education Fund, an advocacy group that supported the legislation.

The group said Maryland’s new board “will look at prescription drugs with costs that greatly impact Marylanders, including medications that impact the budgets of state, county and local government programs and facilities.”

Former Maryland Health Secretary Van Mitchell will chair the five-member panel comprised of health care specialists. Other members include Dr. Joseph Levy, Dr. Eberechukwu Onukwugha, Dr. George Malouf and Dr. Gerard Anderson.

The board is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

“The truth is that drug prices are out of control,” said Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, the lead sponsor of the 2019 legislation that created the board.

“We are not supposed to know the actual listing price or the formula that is used for coming up with the price,” she said. “We are in the dark.”

While the board cannot literally cap prescription prices, it can recommend “upper payment limits” that state, county, or local government health plans would agree to pay for the drug.

The board is expected to begin making its recommendations in 2022.

There are certain pricing aspects that the board will specifically target, including new brand name drugs which enter the market at $30,000 per year, existing brand name drugs that increase in price by $3,000 per year and existing generic drugs that increase in price by 200% per year.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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