Prescription drug costs under review in Maryland

Van Mitchell, a former Maryland health secretary who is now chairman of the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board, presides over the board’s first meeting in Annapolis on Monday, Jan. 13.

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — A new board that will investigate how to keep prescription drugs affordable in Maryland met for the first time Monday to discuss hiring staff members and finding an office.

The five-member Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board will conduct studies on prescription drug costs. A study due later this year will focus on generic drug markets and how drug prices affect insurance premiums. The board also has a mandate to conduct an annual study on drug pricing trends.

“There’s a lot of studies,” said board chairman and former Maryland health secretary Van Mitchell.

One of the options available to the board is to recommend setting upper-payment limits to make high-cost drugs more affordable for state and local governments.

Such a recommendation wouldrequire approval from elected officials and would have to be submitted to the legislature’s Policy Committee by July 1, 2021. The committee, comprising lawmakers from both houses of the legislature, would have 45 days to approve the plan.

If either the committee, or both the governor and attorney general approve, the board would be able to establish upper-payment limits on Jan. 1, 2022, only for drugs purchased by state and local governments. The panel would be able to recommend expanding upper-price limits for all drug purchases in the state in 2023.

The board plans to hire four or five staff members, Mitchell said.

State lawmakers approved legislation to create the board last year to address rising prescription drug prices.

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