With the goal of addressing the escalating prices of medications, Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th District, introduced two pieces of legislation Monday concerning prescription drug affordability in New Jersey.
Singleton made the announcement at a press conference with New Jersey Citizen Action, AARP New Jersey, as well as other health and consumer advocates.
The bills would establish bulk-purchasing arrangements for pharmaceutical drugs and create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board with the collective goal of reducing the overall price of prescription drugs for New Jerseyans. Singleton said that these proposals are needed because, in recent years, the rising cost of prescription drugs has forced families of all economic backgrounds to decide whether they can afford lifesaving medicine.
“Prescription drug prices are escalating at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate. Combined with the ever-shrinking insurance coverage and pharmacy benefit cost shifting has brought us to this tipping point today. These two pieces of legislation have the collective goal of attempting to reduce the cost of prescription drugs,” said Singleton.
“Paying for necessary prescription drugs has become a Hobson’s Choice in our state – with patients deciding to pay for medicine or go without so they can afford rent, groceries and other living expenses,” said Singleton.
“Together, these two proposals will seek to drive down prescription drug costs through collaboration and negotiation, with the ultimate goal of making them more affordable.
The main elements of the two pieces of legislation include:
- Utilizing the state’s purchasing power to attain lower prescription drug costs;
- Requiring the Division of Purchase and Property in the Department of the Treasury to review all pharmaceutical purchasing arrangements and contracts and maximize New Jersey’s bargaining power;
- Requiring the Division of Purchasing and Property to maintain a list of all pharmaceutical products that can be bulk purchased or renegotiated with the manufacturer;
- Conducting a study through the Prescription Drug Affordability Board of the entire pharmaceutical distribution and payment system as well as examining what other states are doing to lower pharmaceutical processes;
- Conducting a study through the Prescription Drug Affordability Board of the generic pharmaceutical market place to identify pharmaceutical products that have created affordability challenges for patients and determining whether to conduct a cost review of prescription drugs that will likely be difficult to afford;
- Determining if there is a need to establish upper payment limits on certain products or whether or not to allow the importation of pharmaceuticals from other countries.
“Access to affordable prescription drugs should be a basic human right,” said Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action. “But pharmaceutical companies are increasingly turning these life-saving drugs into luxury items that are beyond the reach of those who need them most. We must address this rampant price-gouging at both the state and federal levels, especially since much of the research to produce these drugs is funded by taxpayers,” said Collinsgru.