Colorado could join a handful of other states that no longer are waiting for the federal government in finding ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Because congressional efforts to negotiate for lower prices on prescription drugs continue to falter, several states have or are considering creating their own Prescription Drug Affordability Boards.
Like many of those other states’ boards, Colorado’s panel would gather a group of experts to investigate drug cost increases, and then set guardrails on prices for the most expensive drugs.
Many of the drugs sold in the United States cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more than the same drugs go for in Canada and the European Union. That’s partly because those nations do what this one doesn’t, negotiate with drug companies, and put limits on what they can charge, sponsors of the bill say.
“It’s just ridiculous what’s going on with this,” said Gov. Jared Polis in announcing introduction of the bill into the Colorado Legislature on Monday. “These are the exact same prescription drugs, and yet they cost far more. American consumers are sick and tired of being ripped off.”
Polis said some Americans, those who are served by the Veteran’s Affairs for example, pay those cheaper costs. Why? Because they negotiate drug costs, the governor said.
“But that only touches a teeny, teeny fraction of the market,” Polis said. “For the vast majority of Americans, we don’t take advantage of our buying power as consumers, our leverage to negotiate any better rates, or even reasonable rates on prescription drugs.”
The four Democratic sponsors of the bill — Sens. Julie Gonzales of Denver and Sonya Jaquez Lewis of Lafayette, and Reps. Yadria Caraveo of Thornton and Chris Kennedy of Lakewood — all said that Coloradans, particularly lower income residents, are having to choose from paying their rents and putting food on their tables and paying the high cost of life-saving medications.
“There is no reason why we should be paying more for prescription drugs than consumers in other countries, but we are and it’s not even close,” said Caraveo, a medical doctor. “Physicians like myself make decisions all the time about what is in the best interests for our patients. Drugs only work if my patients can take them. Prescription drugs save lives.”
Four states already have such panels in place, but only within the past year, so it’s not yet known how effective they will be. A dozen other states also are considering similar bills in their legislatures.