Senate unanimously approves bold bill package aimed at lowering prescription drug costs

Published: Jun. 11, 2019 at 6:08 PM EDT
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The Maine Senate passed a bill package Tuesday aimed at lowering prescription drug costs and holding drug companies accountable.

A number of lawmakers spoke on the Senate Floor about how high prescription drug costs have hurt their constituents.

All four bills in the bill package were approved unanimously.

One bill would allow importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where they are much cheaper.

"After that many years, finally having bills like that supported unanimously after all that work that the committee did and that the sponsors did, it's a huge deal," said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, who sponsored two of the bills. "And for the people of the state of Maine, I think it's a recognition of the real problems that all of us are having getting affordable prescription drugs."

Another bill, sponsored by Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, focuses on stopping pharmacy benefit managers from taking savings and increasing the consumer costs on drugs.

"The rise in prescription drug costs is literally life threatening to people in the state of Maine," said Sanborn. "And we identified that every single legislator that that was a problem. So when we all agree that there's a particular problem, it's so heartening to know that we can then work together to find solutions."

A third bill tries to increase drug cost transparency by making companies provide data on their prices.

The bill package also sets up the Maine Prescription Drug Affordability Board to look further into the issue.

All of the bills now go over to the House where they are expected to pass easily as well.