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Prescription drug affordability push requires adequate resources | READER COMMENTARY

The high cost of prescription drugs remains a worrisome problem for most Marylanders.

For weeks, we have heard Gov. Larry Hogan stress the importance of doing all we can as a state to mitigate the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we were surprised and disappointed when he vetoed legislation with the potential to do both of those things (“Put Maryland back on path toward affordable prescription drugs,” May 22).

The legislation would create a permanent funding source for Maryland’s landmark Prescription Drug Affordability Board through a modest assessment on members of the pharmaceutical supply chain. The legislation would allow the board to move aggressively to figure out workable ways to bring down the costs of prescriptions in Maryland. The governor’s veto is a worrisome sign of the ever-present influence drug corporations have on our nation’s lawmakers.

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As a patient living with Parkinson’s disease and a caregiver to individuals who rely on lifesaving medications, respectively, we know firsthand the toll that expensive prescription drugs can take on our health and financial stability. It is disheartening to see that even during a pandemic and financial crisis, the drug industry is able to use its influence to slow progress on prescription drug affordability efforts.

Now, more than ever, we need affordable prescription drugs. People have lost jobs and are concerned about paying for necessities, including medications. Many Marylanders now share our worry about whether a cure or vaccine will be within their financial grasp, and some will simply have no way to pay for the drugs they need.

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We can no longer wait and hope that pharmaceutical corporations will do the right thing and price prescription drugs fairly. We urge Maryland legislators to override this veto in the next General Assembly session so that the Prescription Drug Affordability Board has the resources needed to take action to make expensive medications more affordable for Maryland families.

Larry Zarzecki and Jessica Gorski, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the founder of Movement Disorder Education and Exercise and a leading member of Women, Indivisible, Strong, Effective.

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