Maryland Weighs New Approach to Curbing Prescription Drug Costs

by Josh Hicks – Washington Post

A Maryland bill that would make the state a national test case for controlling prescription drug costs has garnered broad legislative support in Annapolis but could put the state on a legal collision course with the pharmaceutical industry.

The proposal, introduced by Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City) and Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s), would create a commission to decide the maximum amount that health plans, pharmacies and state programs could shell out for the most expensive brand-name and patented medications. The state has a similar rate-setting commission that determines how much hospitals can charge for their services.

The bill’s goal is to rein in the skyrocketing cost of pharmaceuticalswithout running afoul of U.S. patent law, which allows drugmakers to hold a monopoly and pricing advantage for years after they patent a new medication.

Federal courts struck down a D.C. drug-affordability law passed in 2005that allowed residents to sue drugmakers whose prices were at least 30 percent higher than in Canada, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom……….

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