Vitelli drug pricing transparency law produces first report
AUGUSTA — Earlier this month, the Maine Health Data Organization released its first annual prescription drug report in compliance with a new law initiated by Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic. The report breaks down which prescription drugs are most commonly prescribed, which drugs are the most expensive and which drugs have the highest year-to-year increase in price.
The law, LD 1406, “An Act to Promote Prescription Drug Price Transparency,” was enacted earlier this year.
“This report signals that Maine’s new law to increase information and transparency on prescription drug pricing is working,” said Sen. Vitelli. “Lawmakers will head into the upcoming legislative session armed with greater knowledge about prescription drug price increases and be able to take more aggressive steps to lower prescription drug costs for the Maine people.”
The new report provides a comprehensive look at Maine’s prescribing and spending habits when it comes to prescription drugs. Among the types of drugs most commonly prescribed in Maine, one-third are brand-name while two-thirds are generic. However, brand name medication tends to be the most expensive and have the highest annual increase in cost.
Of the drugs identified in the report, across multiple categories, many are prescribed to treat chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and arthritis. These are common conditions that require taking medication regularly over a long period of time. It can add up quickly, proving costly for Mainers who rely on these drugs to maintain a normal, productive life.
“The report highlights that too many Mainers are paying high prices just to survive,” said Sen. Vitelli. “Individuals with chronic conditions don’t have a choice when it comes to taking regularly prescribed medication. We need to do more to drive down costs and make it easier for people to get by.”
The report also identified Suboxone, medication designed to treat opioid addiction, as both the second most commonly prescribed medication and one of the costliest drugs. It underscores that Maine is spending a lot on this disease, which is why investing in prevention efforts is vital to getting a handle on the epidemic.
The nationally acclaimed Maine Health Data Organization put together this report using pharmacy claims data. To learn more about the data and the MHDO, click here.
Sen. Vitelli has already submitted legislation to build on the success of this new law in the next legislative session. The Legislature is set to reconvene on Jan. 2.