Bill to Create Prescription Drug Affordability Board Passes 26-13 with Strong Bipartisan Support
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginians for Affordable Medicine — a coalition of small businesses, doctors, local governments, patient advocates, faith leaders, and grassroots supporters — today commended the Senate for voting to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which will lower the cost of prescription drugs for all Virginians. The bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support by a 26-13 margin, now moves to the House for consideration.
“It was an honor to vote with my colleagues to ensure Virginians can afford their life-saving medicines and ease the burden for people already dealing with rising inflation,” said chief patron Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). “It is simply too expensive to stay alive and that has got to change. I hope members of the House agree.”
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board would empower Virginia to set reasonable rates to protect consumers from unfair and out-of-control prices of medicines they rely on. In 2022 alone, drug companies hiked the price of more than 1,200 drugs by an average of 31.6% – about four times the rate of inflation.
Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville), the chief co-patron of the bill, said, “Our constituents sent us to Richmond to fight for them and I was proud to stand with my colleagues to do just that today. This monumental piece of legislation will mean major cost savings for Virginians on the life-saving medicines that they need.”
Over the last decade, Virginians have been shouldering a greater burden of prescription drug costs than most Americans. In 2020, Virginians spent 36% more per person on prescription drugs than the national average: $1,500 in Virginia compared to $1,100 nationally. From 2015 to 2020, Virginians’ average spending on prescription drugs rose from $1,400 to $1,500 – a 6.6% increase, more than twice the national increase. Last year, Virginians paid a combined $3.2 billion on prescription drugs in the commercial market.
“Prescription drug costs are a challenge for county budgets as well as for individuals and families,” says Dean Lynch, Executive Director, Virginia Association of Counties. “We appreciate the work of Senator Petersen on this issue and are pleased to support this important legislation this session.”
A 2022 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 82% of Virginians – including wide bipartisan majorities – support the establishment of a PDAB, while 56% of Virginians have personally felt the negative effect of the rising cost of medicine. The bill would complement the Inflation Reduction Act by empowering Virginia to take action for the other 7.5 million Virginians who are not on Medicare. In addition, state and local governments will save millions on the cost of prescription drugs, which have increased 20% in two years, costing the Commonwealth more than $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2022.
“The Senate has taken a major bipartisan step forward for Virginians today and delivered a big win for patients and consumers,” said Rhena Hicks, Executive Director of Freedom Virginia, a member of Virginians for Affordable Medicine. “It was encouraging to see PhRMA-backed legislation designed to pad corporate bottom lines be laid to rest in the House of Delegates. I hope those members recognize the legitimate life-saving importance of this legislation and support it.”
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation, SB 957, would create a small, independent group of health care experts to analyze the affordability of a limited number of the most burdensome high-priced prescription drugs and institute reasonable limits to protect consumers from harmful price-gouging. The proposal builds on legislation passed in 2021 to create transparency in prescription drug prices, and would follow the success of seven other states, including neighboring Maryland, that have created similar prescription drug affordability boards under Democratic and Republican governors alike.