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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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DFL Lawmakers Announce Comprehensive Plan to Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable, Accessible

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
St. Paul, Minn. – House DFL lawmakers today introduced a comprehensive plan to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible by holding pharmaceutical companies accountable and putting more power in the hands of Minnesotans who are struggling with the skyrocketing cost of needed medications.
Click here to watch a video replay of today’s news conference.
Across the country, Americans are facing a prescription drug pricing crisis. Nearly 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. struggle to afford their prescription drugs, forcing patients to make impossible choices. According to a recent report, 30 percent of Minnesotans say they have not taken their medicine as prescribed due to costs, or have reported skipping doses, cutting pills in half, substituting with over-the-counter drugs, or not filling a prescription in the past year.
“Minnesotans should not be forced to choose between their groceries and their needed medication, but this is happening all across our state - it’s wrong,” said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield). “It’s our responsibility to hold Big Pharma accountable and make health care work for everyone. We are committed to real action this session to address the unsustainable, crushing cost of prescription drugs.”
The problem is getting worse, with double-digit price hikes for prescription drug prices on average over the past several years. Standing alongside the parents of Alec Smith, who died in 2017 at age 26 because he could not afford to pay the cost of his insulin prescription, House DFLers said Big Pharma is gaming the system to earn billions at the expense of Minnesotans’ economic security.
“Big Pharma is fighting as hard as they can to keep costs and profits high, but the Minnesota House of Representatives will take action to address prescription drug price increases regardless of their money and influence,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We hope Senate Republicans will join us in standing up to Big Pharma and addressing this issue.”
The comprehensive plan announced today is among the strongest efforts to address the rising cost of prescription drugs amongst state legislatures in the country. It increases transparency for drug manufacturers, improves public scrutiny of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), leverages the State of Minnesota’s purchasing power to cut health care costs, and puts more power back in the hands patients and their doctors – not insurers or PBMs – to decide what medication is best suited to treat an illness.