Many New Mexico families can’t afford the medication they need and either forgo filling their prescription drugs or end up rationing them to make their prescription last longer. Across the nation, a quarter of all Americans report difficulty paying for their prescription drugs. People are forced with difficult choices like purchasing groceries or life-saving medication.
It’s even more difficult for the elderly. Yet, it’s where we are today because the retail price of prescription drugs commonly used by older Americans has continued to increase faster than inflation, according to a new analysis from AARP. In fact, drug prices in the United States are almost four times higher than average drug prices in similar countries.
If there were something we could do about reducing prescription drug prices in New Mexico, would we do it?
In late December 2019, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and its Food and Drug Administration released the Safe Importation Action Plan, including a notice of proposed rulemaking to enable the wholesale importation of prescription drugs from Canada by U.S. states.
There’s a bill in the New Mexico Legislature that gives New Mexico the authority to establish a wholesale drug importation program. Senate Bill 1 would authorize the New Mexico Department of Health to develop a plan and become one of the early states to apply for federal approval to import wholesale drugs from Canada – thereby reducing the cost of many prescription drugs and passing that savings on to New Mexicans. It unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday, 35-0.
Vermont, Maine, Colorado and Florida have already passed similar legislation, and many other states – Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia – are exploring similar options. New Mexico has an opportunity to do the same and be one of the early states to gain access to many prescription medications at a lower cost.