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Law aiming to lower drug prices headed to Governor Polis' desk

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Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Conncetion) A law passed two years ago aiming to reign in skyrocketing prescription drug prices is set to get a booster shot with the passage of House Bill 1225 by the Colorado Legislature.

Hope Stonner, policy coordinator for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, said high drug prices have put lifesaving medicines out of reach for many Coloradans, including seniors living on fixed incomes and low-income workers.

"We know that approximately one in three Coloradans have reported struggling to pay for their prescription drug costs," Stonner reported. "That means making the impossible decision between paying rent, putting food on the table, or taking these drugs that oftentimes are really necessary for folks."

The bill gives new authority to the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, created in 2021, which can set upper cost limits on some of the most expensive medicines. The Colorado Bioscience Association opposed the measure, arguing it would make it harder for drug companies to raise money for research, development and other costs associated with bringing new prescription drugs to market.

Americans currently pay twice as much for medicines than people in other developed nations, and Stonner pointed out most of the money is not reinvested in research and development.

"We know that drug manufacturing companies spend billions each year on marketing and advertising," Stonner asserted. "We see the Prescription Drug Affordability Board as one really important mechanism in beginning to even the scales."

The bill will allow the board to adjust the cap on the number of drugs with upper payment limits set in the first three years. The measure will also extend the board's sunset date from 2026 into 2031.

Stonner added the board has been busy the past two years setting up the rule-making process, so the new law will allow them to finally start making drugs more affordable.

"We see it as really important that the board's work is continued to make sure that, once they start getting into the process of setting those upper payment limits, they have more time to do that," Stonner stressed. "Hopefully, more consumers will see the benefits of those upper payment limits."