Time to make drugs more affordable - Albuquerque Journal

Time to make drugs more affordable

I was disheartened and angered to learn that nearly half of New Mexicans have skipped taking medication or not filled a prescription because of cost concerns, according to a recent statewide survey. That is unacceptable.

Medications don’t work if people can’t afford them.

That’s why I am introducing legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. Until now, big drug companies have been the only businesses in the health care industry whose rates are not regulated. The Legislature can and must act to hold them accountable.

The survey, conducted by GBAO Strategies, found that 44% of New Mexicans skipped medication and nine in 10 are either very or somewhat concerned about the cost of prescription drugs. Those concerns are justified. A study released last month by the nonpartisan policy research group West Health Policy Center found “more than 1.1 million Medicare patients could die over the next decade because they cannot afford to pay for their prescription medications.”

Numerous studies have also shown how the big drug companies have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to raise prices on a wide range of medications needed to treat everything from respiratory disease to heartburn.

It is time for the state Legislature to step up and ensure all New Mexicans have access to affordable medications. A Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) would serve as an independent body with the authority to evaluate high cost drugs and set reasonable rates for consumers to pay.

The state regulates the cost of health insurance, electricity and other critical utilities and it ought to look out for consumers of prescription medications as well.

Maryland and Maine established PDABs in 2019, and in 2020, 13 states introduced legislation. The intent is to set the maximum amount purchasers and health insurers pay for the costliest drugs, which reduces costs and increases access for consumers and payors.

An affordability board can review information from public sources and establish an upper payment limit that allows an affordable way for everyone in the state who should get the drug access to it.

By setting an upper payment limit, PDABs regulate in-state costs for particular drugs among state-licensed health care providers. This is a common practice in the health care industry, where the upper payment limit caps what insurers can reimburse or what can be billed to a given purchaser.

The PDAB would consider a broad range of economic factors when setting appropriate payment rates for reviewed drugs, allowing pharmaceutical manufacturers the opportunity to justify existing drug costs. Staffing the board would be funded by a fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The emperor has no clothes when it comes to the high prices charged by drug companies. Their profits and CEO salaries have skyrocketed over the past two decades as consumers have been forced to pay more. Americans pay four times as much for the same medicines as people in other countries.

New Mexico can fight back and protect our most vulnerable. This session we should create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Time to make drugs more affordable


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Taos Abstract Artist Collective debuts inaugural exhibition
Arts
The group will show its first ... The group will show its first exhibition from Sept. 2-10 at the Stables Gallery at the Taos Center for the Arts.
2
Guild Cinema screening short film inspired by '90s horror ...
Arts
'Quiet Hours' will screen at the ... 'Quiet Hours' will screen at the Guild Cinema at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21.
3
Pulling out weeds by the root key to keeping ...
Arts
Bindweed and common purslane spotting in ... Bindweed and common purslane spotting in ABQ backyard
4
Visit Las Cruces puts out a call for artist(s) ...
Arts
Visit Las Cruces is looking for ... Visit Las Cruces is looking for an artist or artist group to submit proposals for the design and installation of a permanent exterior mural.
5
'Eyeshine' showing at Harwood with 'Holy Land' through Sept. ...
Arts
Adrian Pijoan will show his work ... Adrian Pijoan will show his work at the Harwood Art Center through Sept. 15. Organizers paired his work with 'Holy Land' by Diego Medina.
6
Caja del Rio is teeming with wide open spaces ...
Arts
Covering more than 104,000 acres, Caja ... Covering more than 104,000 acres, Caja del Rio is rife with history.
7
Man Ray muse takes center stage in biography
Arts
Her name was Alice Prin, but ... Her name was Alice Prin, but she was better known in the bohemian world of 1920s Paris as Kiki de Montparnasse
8
Exhibition looks at works inspired by the vistas of ...
Arts
'New Beginnings: An American Story of ... 'New Beginnings: An American Story of Romantics and Modernists in the West' showcases 127 works created from the late 1800-1900s at the Harwood Museum ...
9
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abrig'd) hits Albuquerque Little ...
Arts
'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare ... 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abrig'd)' returns to the Albuquerque Little Theatre at 224 San Pasquale Ave. SW.