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Readers Respond

Drug bill doesn't treat Md.'s ills

In their recent commentary ("Md. legislation would rein in prescription drug costs," Jan. 21), Dr. Leana Wen and Hank Greenberg discuss the importance of preserving access to life-saving prescription medications, but the so-called "transparency" legislation they tout does not deliver on its promises and ignores what patients say are their biggest concerns.

Biopharmaceutical companies based right here in Maryland are committed to discovering new medicines that will give patients longer, healthier lives. However, while claiming to promote "transparency," the current proposal fails to give an accurate picture of the decades of research, risk and failure that go into developing an innovative medicine. Only 12 percent of medicines ultimately pass clinical trials. It also doesn't take into account the many other players who have a role in the modern supply chain. Instead of taking a holistic approach, this bill would stifle innovation without giving patients the meaningful answers to their questions.

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Research conducted by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease shows that patients' biggest concerns are the lack of information about the doctors and medicines covered by their insurance plan (73 percent) and increasing out-of-pocket costs at hospitals (73 percent). That's no surprise since in Maryland payers can change their prescription medication formularies midway through the year. There are no protections to guarantee continuous coverage for policyholders.

No one should have to worry about how they will access their necessary medications. We need solutions that address Marylanders' top priorities and concerns. Unfortunately, this proposal doesn't prioritize patient needs.

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Caitlin A. Carroll, Washington, D.C.

The writer is director of communications for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.


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