In an effort to address the ongoing issue of exorbitant prescription drug prices, Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Bill Moen and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsor legislation to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in New Jersey.
Millions of Americans have been forced to skip their medications as a result of unaffordable prices, while some have tried to ration their necessary yet expensive medicine. Under the bill (A-2418), the Board’s purpose would be to protect residents and other stakeholders within the New Jersey health care system from the high costs of prescription drug products.
The Board would be comprised of five public members who cannot work with or consult for the pharmaceutical industry, health benefits plan carriers or other related trade associations. Once formed, the Board’s members would conduct a study of the entire pharmaceutical distribution and payment system in New Jersey, while looking into policies other states have implemented and considering the efficacy of measures such as upper payment limits.
Members would also learn more about generic drugs – such as how they relate to insurance premiums, their annual cost, and the potential for any shortages – while collecting data on manufacturers, distributors and other groups involved in the provision of prescription drugs. The Board would provide recommendations to the Legislature on how to make prescription drugs more affordable in the state.
Upon the legislation being advanced by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Wednesday, the Assembly sponsors issued the following statements:
“Americans pay nearly three times more for their prescription drugs than dozens of other countries, while at least 11 percent are forced to ration their medicine due to a lack of affordability,” said Assemblyman McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “Clearly, something needs to change here. Establishing an Affordability Board is a strategic, impactful approach to handling this issue that will help us help the many New Jersey residents who cannot currently afford the medicines they need.”
“Prescription drugs are too often exorbitantly priced – far beyond the actual costs of manufacturing and distribution,” said Assemblyman Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester). “We need to understand how the system works in order to seek out ways to reduce prices that have significantly risen over the years. This is an easy choice that will not only help our economy, but ultimately save lives.”
“The information this Board collects and shares with the Legislature will benefit the entire health care system in our state by helping the government, insurance carriers, and most importantly – New Jersey families – pay less for these critical medications,” said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “It is time for us to find solutions to an issue that affects so many residents so significantly.”