On Monday, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit drug manufacturers from unconscionable price increases on off-patent generic drugs. The House of Delegates approved the bill on a 137-2 vote, sending it to the Senate. On Friday, the Senate followed suit, passing the generic drug price gouging bill, HB631, on a 38-7 vote.
On Tuesday, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III released a statement, saying the passage of the bill would eliminate boundaries that prevent people from obtaining their prescription drugs, because of drastic price increases.
When the price of a generic prescription drug is rapidly or excessively increased, the Maryland Medicaid Assistance Program will report it to the Attorney General Brian Frosh, who will initiate an investigation into the increase. The drug manufacturer, who instituted the price increase, will be required to submit documents to prove validity of the major increase. The attorney general will determine if the price gouging occurred and those found in violation of the law could be subject to a $10,000 fine.
According to a 2014 survey of pharmacists, 25 off-patent generic drugs were increased by 600 to 2000 percent. When drug patents expire or more competition come onboard, prices typically “plummet” and generic drugs are an estimated 20 percent less than the original patented price.
Now, it is up to Governor Larry Hogan to sign or veto the bill. You can read County Executive Baker’s full statement.