RICHMOND, Va. – Virginians for Affordable Medicine — a coalition of small businesses, doctors, local governments, patient advocates, faith leaders, and grassroots supporters — today applauded the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee for advancing Sen. Chap Petersen’s (D-Fairfax) bill to lower prescription drug prices.
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation would create a small, independent group of health care experts to analyze the affordability of certain high-priced prescription drugs and institute reasonable limits to protect consumers from harmful price-gouging. The proposal builds off of Virginia legislation passed in 2021 to create transparency in prescription drug prices.
“Virginians are paying too much for their medicines, and I’m glad the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee took action today to lower those costs,” said Sen. Petersen. “Next stop is the Senate Finance Committee, where I look forward to presenting this bill again. I know my colleagues on that committee will do right by working families and advance this bill to the floor. It should not be this expensive just to stay alive.”
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board would empower Virginia to set reasonable rates to protect people from the unfair and out-of-control prices for the medicines that 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.
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.
AARP Virginia State President Joyce Williams said, “The most common concern I hear from my fellow members across the Commonwealth is the high cost of prescription drugs. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee did right by millions of Virginians today, and we look forward to the Senate Finance Committee doing the right thing as well. Medicine only works if you can afford it.”
“A Prescription Drug Affordability Board would save money for hardworking people who are just trying to stay healthy and alive,” said Rhena Hicks, Executive Director of Freedom Virginia. “We applaud Democrats on the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee for voting to let people keep more of what they’ve earned by capping what they pay for their prescriptions.”
At a Jan. 10 press event, VCU graduate student Jenaya Moore shared her struggle to afford the medicine she needs to manage asthma. She noted that “implementation of this board would help to, not only alleviate my financial burden, but a lot of other Virginia families across the state, and it wouldn’t have me sitting and debating if I have to choose between paying for my medication or investing in higher education.”
Eighty-two percent of Virginians support joining the seven other states, including neighboring Maryland, that have adopted Prescription Drug Affordability Boards. AARP Virginia has endorsed the legislation, and the Commonwealth Council on Aging included the bill in its 2023 legislative recommendations.
Delegate Karrie Delaney (D-Chantilly) has introduced the bill on the House side.
- WRIC Richmond: Virginia lawmakers revive effort to control prescription drug prices
- WDBJ Roanoke: State lawmakers propose prescription drug affordability board
- CBS6 Richmond: Virginia lawmakers hope to take action to rein in cost of prescription drugs