Maryland's Prescription Drug Affordability Board Targets Six Medications for Review

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In a bid to address the pressing issue of prescription drug affordability, Maryland's Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) has taken a significant step forward. At their recent meeting, the board officially designated six medications for "cost review," aiming to ascertain whether these drugs present financial challenges for Marylanders reliant on the state's healthcare plan.

Led by Chair Van T. Mitchell, the PDAB convened in person, marking a departure from the virtual meetings necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mitchell expressed his satisfaction at the progress made, highlighting the momentum driving the board forward. However, he acknowledged the hurdles encountered along the way, including delays in operationalizing the board due to legislative and administrative obstacles.

Established by the General Assembly in 2019, the PDAB faced initial setbacks, including a veto from former Governor Larry Hogan amid economic uncertainty sparked by the pandemic. However, recent legislative measures have reaffirmed the board's authority and extended its deadlines, paving the way for substantive action.

The selected medications under review encompass a range of conditions, from diabetes to moderate-to-severe eczema. Notably absent from the list are drugs for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and HIV/AIDS, though their exclusion is not permanent. The board emphasized that the selection process does not imply that these medications are inherently unaffordable, but rather serves as a means to gather comprehensive data on patient out-of-pocket costs and financial implications.

Among the prioritized drugs are several used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, including Ozempic, Trulicity, Farxiga, and Jardiance. Additionally, Skyrizi, utilized for plaque psoriasis and Crohn's disease, has been earmarked for review. Dupixent, prescribed for moderate-to-severe eczema, will undergo analysis subsequent to the other medications.

Despite initial plans to review eight drugs, two were temporarily excluded from consideration: Biktarvy and Vyvanse. Concerns were raised regarding the complexities of assessing affordability for drugs like Biktarvy, which benefit from various federal assistance programs.

Vincent DeMarco, a prominent healthcare advocate, lauded the board's progress as "historic," underscoring the significance of their efforts in addressing the affordability crisis. Executive Director Andrew York affirmed the board's commitment to thorough analysis, emphasizing the allocation of resources to facilitate comprehensive reviews.

Looking ahead, the PDAB aims to present its findings at the next meeting in July, marking a crucial milestone in their mission to ensure equitable access to essential medications for all Marylanders.

As Maryland takes proactive steps to tackle prescription drug affordability, the PDAB's initiatives serve as a beacon of hope, signaling a concerted effort to prioritize the well-being of its citizens in the realm of healthcare.

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