BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker and Massachusetts lawmakers became national leaders in the fight to lower drug prices this week. Lawmakers struck a bipartisan budget deal that grants the state the power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs in the state’s Medicaid program. Under the new program, the state can negotiate lower prices if a drug costs MassHealth $10 million a year or more than $25,000 per patient per year.
“Prescription drug spending in MassHealth has nearly doubled in the last five years, and Massachusetts residents have suffered under relentless price hikes,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We applaud Governor Baker, the state’s legislature, and consumer groups for taking a bipartisan stand. The budget’s success signals to states across the nation that working together we can bring Big Pharma to the negotiating table and get a better deal for state residents.”
The state’s $43.1 billion budget includes provisions to:
- Give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers over the price of some of the most expensive drugs in Medicaid.
- Allow the HHS Secretary to analyze the value of a drug.
- Hold public hearings regarding the price of the expensive drugs.
The program is expected to save taxpayers $80 million next year from negotiations with drug corporations. In support of the effort, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now ran a six-figure campaign backing changes to curtail runaway drug pricing. The campaign included:
- Video ads on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and across local digital platforms that told the story of a Massachusetts resident who couldn’t afford the price of her life-saving drugs.
- Digital tools that allowed Commonwealth residents to contact legislators via letters, Facebook, and Twitter in support of the measures.
- Blogs that elevated the voices of local patients to demonstrate the human toll of high-priced drugs on Commonwealth residents.