Colorado Legislature to consider panel to limit drug costs

March 10, 2021 GMT

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A bill introduced in Colorado would establish a panel of experts to investigate drug cost increases and then set perimeters on prices for the most expensive prescriptions, state officials said.

The bill was introduced on Monday and is sponsored by four Democrats, including state Sens. Julie Gonzales and Sonya Jaquez Lewis and state Reps. Yadria Caraveo and Chris Kennedy, The Daily Sentinel reported.

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Several states have or are considering creating their own Prescription Drug Affordability Boards as efforts at the federal level to negotiate for lower prices on prescription drugs continue to falter.

Many of the drugs sold in the U.S. cost hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands, more than the same drugs in Canada and the European Union. That’s the case in part because other countries negotiate with drug companies and put limits on what the companies can charge — something the U.S. does not do.

“It’s just ridiculous what’s going on with this,” Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said when introducing the bill into the state Legislature. “These are the exact same prescription drugs, and yet they cost far more. American consumers are sick and tired of being ripped off.”

He added: “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 bill’s sponsors have said residents are having to choose between paying rent, buying food or 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, who is also 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, while a dozen other states are considering similar bills.