St. Paul, Minn. – Representatives Alice Mann (DFL - Lakeville) and Hunter Cantrell (DFL - Savage) authored key pieces of legislation in a comprehensive plan announced yesterday to make prescription drugs more affordable by holding pharmaceutical companies accountable and putting more power in the hands of Minnesotans who are struggling with the skyrocketing cost of life-saving medications.
Across the country, Americans are facing a prescription drug pricing crisis. Nearly 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. struggle to afford their prescription drugs, forcing patients to make painful choices. According to a recent report, in the last year 30 percent of Minnesotans say they have not taken their medicine as prescribed due to costs, or have reported skipping doses, cutting pills in half, substituting with over-the-counter drugs, or not filling a prescription.
“Stories of patients skipping their medication in order to keep food on the table have become all too common," said Rep. Mann, chief author of legislation to require accountability for pharmaceutical middle men. "Waiting for someone to create a GoFundMe cannot be our safety net - it's our job to craft health care policy that helps people and protects them from profit-driven health care companies. Large corporations simply should not benefit at the expense of people facing illnesses in this state."
"The companies that make up the health care industry and turn a profit off of our illnesses shouldn't be able to operate in the dark," said Rep. Cantrell, chief author of legislation to leverage state purchasing power to lower the cost of drugs, and to stop insurer practices that limit prescription drug choices. "This legislation will shed some sunlight on the unfair practices of big health care companies and reduce the cost of prescription drugs for Minnesotans."
The problem is getting worse; there have been double-digit price hikes for prescription drug prices over the past several years. Standing alongside the parents of Alec Smith, who died in 2017 at age 26 because he could not afford to pay the cost of his insulin prescription, House DFLers said Big Pharma is gaming the system to earn billions at the expense of Minnesotans’ economic security.
The comprehensive plan announced yesterday is one of the strongest efforts to address the rising cost of prescription drugs among state legislatures in the country. It increases transparency for drug manufacturers, improves public scrutiny of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), leverages the State of Minnesota’s purchasing power to cut health care costs, and puts more power back in the hands patients and their doctors – not insurers or PBMs – to decide what medication is best suited to treat an illness.
Click here to watch a video replay of yesterday’s news conference.