Marylanders Suffer when Prescriptions are too Expensive – They need your help!

Marylanders suffer when our prescriptions are too expensive. 
The high costs of prescription drugs have made it increasingly difficult for Marylanders to access the medications that they need. Prescription drugs account for about 17% of all health care spending in the United States; that’s more than $370 billion per year, exceeding all other countries. The creation of a Drug Cost Commission is an important step in addressing this issue. Not only are the costs of prescription drugs a burden to the state and consumers, they are an issue that has touched many famillies we know in our community,

Last week, the State Senate passed unanimously SB 576 sponsored by Senator Katherine Klausmeier to ban the gag rule by which some pharmaceutical benefit managers prevent pharmacists from letting consumers know about the least expensive way to buy their drugs.  This is a big progress and we hope and expect the House of Delegates to pass this measure soon.  WISE is part of the coalition of over 1,200 organizations that support this legislation and testified in favor of the House version of this bill, HB 736 sponsored by Delegate Eric Bromwell, on March 8. Thanks to everyone for you help in getting this done!

Also last week,  the lead House sponsor of the Drug Cost Commission bill, HB 1194, Delegate Joseline Peña-Melynk, led a terrific hearing on the bill before the House Health and Government Operations Committee, her contact inormation is below so you can thank her for her efforts in fighting for all Marylanders to afford access to life saving prescriptions.  Now we need your help to contact members of the House Health and Government Operations Committee to strongly urge them to support HB 1194.  Below you will find a list of all the members of the committee, with a marking for those who are members of the important Health Facilities and Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee and are not co-sponsors yet.  (Watch recording of hearing to learn more. Testimony begins at time mark 2:12 and ends at 4:15. 2:12:44 starts with favprable expert panel discussing the reasons for and merits of HB1194, 2:58 marks start of favorable consumer panels supporting this legisation, and end ats 3:15:25. At 3:15:30 the unfavorable expert and consumer panels begin. Delegates Pena-Melnyk, Krebs, and Hill pose some very difficult questions for these panels and are worth watching for breakdown of the standard answers received from those opposed.

We have a chance to pass state laws to help us get the best price for our prescriptions, require more transparency in drug pricing and establish fair costs for expensive treatments. This bill also received a strong letter of support from Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh.

March 6,2018

The Honorable Shane Pendergrass
Chair, Health and Government Operations Committee
From: The OfÍìce of the Attorney General
Re: House Bill 1194 – Drug Cost Commission (SUPPORT)


The Office of the Attomey General submits the following written testimony in support of House Bill 1194. The bill establishes the Drug Cost Review Commission for the pu{pose of protecting Maryland residents, State and local govemments, commercial health plans, health care providers, pharmacies licensed in the State, and other stakeholders within the health care system from excessive costs of prescription drugs. We strongly support this regulatory effort, which dovetails
with the legislature’s mission this session to mitigate cost increases in the individual health insurance market caused by damaging federal policy decisions. Carriers have repeatedly reported to this committee that escalating prescription drug costs are a major driver of premium rate increases.
The lives and health of Marylanders, and people all over the country, are threatened when the prices of medicine upon which they depend to survive and thrive are raised beyond their ability to pay. Establishing a commission to monitor and oversee the cost of prescription drugs is an important step to take.

(To read Attorney General Brian Frosh’s letter in full click here. Attorney General Support Letter for HB 1194)
Please contact your elected official to urge them to support our Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative (HB1194/SB1023). We need a vote of favorable before Friday in order for this bill to continue during this 2018 legislative session. Don’t let this committee hold this legislation hostage when so many Marylanders are suffering with the rising costs of healthcare and the ability to pay for their lifesaving medications.
Members of the House Health and Government Operations Committee

Shane E. Pendergrass, Chair

District 13 – Howard County-Rm 241

Phone: (410) 841-3139


Eric M. Bromwell, Vice-Chair (Health Facilities & Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee, Chair)

District 8 – Baltimore County-Rm 241

Phone: (410) 841-3766



 Nicholaus R. Kipke (Health Facilities & Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee)

District 31B – Anne Arundel County-Rm 212

Phone: (410) 841-3421



Susan W. Krebs (Health Facilities & Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee)

District 5 – Carroll County Rm 324

Phone: (410) 841-3200



(Lead Sponsor) Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk

District 21 – Anne Arundel County & Prince George’s County-Rm 425

Phone: (410) 841-3502



Sid A. Saab (Health Facilities & Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee)

District 33 – Anne Arundel County-Rm 157

Phone: (410) 841-3551



Christopher R. West (Health Facilities & Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee)

District 42B – Baltimore County-Rm 303

Phone: (410) 841-3793




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