xml:space="preserve">

Van Mitchell, the chair of the new Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board, will lead a forum at an Ellicott City senior center to hear about rising drug costs, the first of a series of events around the state to hear from the public about the burden of paying for their medications.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball will help lead the forum, and he will be joined by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and Maryland AARP official Tammy Bresnahan, according to a new release from the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

Advertisement

“I appreciate very much County Executive Ball hosting this first in our series of events at senior centers across the state to talk about what the Board will do and to hear directly from Maryland’s seniors about how high cost drugs are impacting them," Mitchell said in the release.

The meeting is scheduled for noon Monday at the Ellicott City 50+ Center, located at 9401 Frederick Road.

The Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which was established by the legislature in 2019, is beginning its work by reviewing drug costs in the state and hearing public concerns about the affordability of medications.

The board, the first of its kind in the nation, has scheduled its first meeting for Jan. 13 in Annapolis. The board is looking for office space in Prince George’s County.

Lawmakers approved legislation in 2019 to create the independent body, which will evaluate and investigate the cost of particularly expensive prescription drugs or ones whose prices abruptly increase. If the board determines a medication presents an affordability challenge for Maryland residents, the board can set an upper payment limit that state or local government health care plans would agree to pay for the drug.

“It is unacceptable for Howard County residents to have to choose between paying for their prescription drugs or buying groceries, our residents deserve better and we are doing everything in our power to lower prescription drug costs,” Ball said in a prepared statement.

“We’re honored to be the first jurisdiction to host these important conversations to be held around the state, Howard County has been and will continue to be at the forefront of health care innovations for our residents."

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan recently appointed Dr. Joseph Levy of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to the board. He joined Mitchell, the former Maryland Health Secretary; Dr. Eberechukwu Onukwugha of the University of Maryland; Dr. George Malouf, and Dr. Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins.

“Too many people across Maryland simply can’t afford to pay for the medications they need to lead healthy lives, and it’s important for Chairman Mitchell to have the opportunity to hear directly from them," Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco, who will also take part in the community forum, said in the release.

"This new board has the ability to tackle this issue and help bring down costs for lifesaving medications," he said.

Bresnahan said lowering prescription drug costs is a priority for AARP.

“High drug prices disproportionately hurt older Marylanders, who take four to five prescriptions per month," she said in the release. "AARP MD is thrilled that the Prescription Drug Affordability Board will look at the high costs of drugs to bring relief to older Marylanders dependent on life saving medications.”

Cindy Mumby, a spokeswoman for Harford County Government, said Glassman has been supportive of the legislation that created the state board and continues to be concerned about prescription drug prices.

Glassman is attending Monday’s forum in Howard County because he is planning to host a similar forum in Harford County in the future, Mumby said.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement