Rules take effect for Sen. Vitelli’s prescription drug transparency law

Posted: February 04, 2020 | Senator Vitelli

AUGUSTA — New prescription drug price transparency rules, which were unanimously adopted by the Maine Health Data Organization last month, take effect in Maine today. These rules are the next step in implementing the new law  from Assistant Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, that will increase prescription drug price transparency. The rules require prescription drug manufacturers, wholesale distributors and pharmacy benefit managers, also known as middlemen, to report prescription price data to the MHDO annually. The deadline to submit data this year is March 31.

Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic.

The goal is to better understand the pricing of prescription drugs so lawmakers can take additional steps to lower the cost of prescription medication and reform this industry.

“Each year, more Mainers are desperately trying to afford the medication they need to go to work and make ends meet. I put in this legislation because Maine people deserve to know what goes into the price of their medication. They deserve answers, and they deserve relief,” said Sen. Vitelli. “Now that the Maine Health Data Organization has adopted this robust set of rules, we can begin to shine a light on what is driving these outrageous prices and take aggressive action to curb the cost of medication once and for all. This move marks a big step in the right direction.”

The MHDO will use the data collected to publish an annual report on the trends in the cost of prescription drugs, manufacturer prices and increases, major components of drug pricing along the supply chain and the impact on insurance premiums. The first report is due on Nov. 1. A manufacturer, wholesale drug distributor or pharmacy benefits manager that violates the law commits a civil violation for which a fine of $30,000 may be adjudged for each day of the violation.

The new drug price transparency law was a key component of Maine Senate Democrats’ prescription drug reform package that became law June 2019. Together, the four new laws aim to make prescription medication more affordable and more accessible, while holding pharmaceutical companies and middlemen accountable.

In the U.S., one in four Americans struggles to pay for their prescription medication while one in ten Americans does not take their medicine as prescribed due to cost. At the same time, and under significant scrutiny, drug manufacturers rang in 2020 by raising prices on the first day of the new year.

The MHDO will continue to hold webinars for manufacturers, wholesale distributors and pharmacy benefit managers throughout the spring. To access the new rules, go to https://mhdo.maine.gov/rules.htm