Lower Drug Costs, Now; House Advances Prescription Drug Affordability Board Proposal

Prescription Drug Affordability Board proposal passes House on Second Reading

DENVER– The House advanced legislation sponsored by Representatives Yadira Caraveo, a physician, and Chris Kennedy to reduce the cost of life-saving prescription drugs. The bill passed the House on Second Reading.

“Bringing down the soaring costs of prescription drugs is one of the most pressing and critical issues we can take on as a legislature,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “It’s time for Colorado to stand up to Big Pharma on behalf of our constituents and work to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. No Coloradan should have to decide between putting food on the table and paying for the life-saving medicine they need to stay healthy.”

“The treatment plans I lay out won’t be effective if my patients can’t afford the drugs I prescribe or are forced to ration them due to the cost,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, a physician. “Reining in the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is an economic issue, a public health issue, and a moral issue that should concern us all. The Prescription Drug Affordability Board will set guardrails to help Coloradans afford life-saving drugs and will help us get to the bottom of spikes in the cost of these drugs.”

Nearly one-in-three Coloradans struggle to afford the cost of prescription drugs. As established in SB21-175, the Prescription Drug Affordability Board will convene a panel of experts to investigate prescription drug cost increases, and set guardrails on cost increases for the most expensive prescription drugs in the state. The affordability board would set upper payment limits for prescription drugs that meet certain cost increase thresholds. These payment limits would apply to all purchasers in the state, but will only be placed on the highest cost drugs. The board will collect and evaluate the data necessary to review the affordability of prescription drugs and make policy recommendations to legislators. The board will be made up of nonpartisan, unpaid, highly qualified experts who are free from conflicts of interest.

A recent poll from the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative found that 77% of Coloradans supported the idea of establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to analyze and act to lower the cost of certain prescription drugs — and this bill seeks to answer their call.