Baltimore City Health Commissioner Commends Maryland General Assembly for Passing Legislation to Stop Prescription Drug Gouging

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891

BALTIMORE, MD (April 10, 2017) — Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued the following statement in response to the Maryland General Assembly’s passage of House Bill 631, which will authorize the State’s Attorney General's Office to take legal action to stop price gouging of off-patent or generic drugs:

“We applaud the Maryland General Assembly for passing landmark legislation that will help to keep prescription medications affordable for families across the state. If signed into law, Maryland would be the first state in the country to take such a stance on prescription price gouging.

“As an emergency physician, I have seen patients who have had to make the impossible choice between buying critical medications and paying for rent or food. Some of these patients have had to pay with their lives because of the inability to afford treatment.

“Price gouging is inhuman and unconscionable, especially as Maryland — and the rest of the nation — continues to an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. This is particularly tragic because there is one medication, naloxone, that can completely reverse an opioid overdose. In Baltimore alone, residents have used naloxone to save 800 lives over the past two years.

“Unfortunately, the price of naloxone has more than doubled, meaning that those of us on the frontlines have to make difficult decisions about to whom we distribute naloxone—and who may or may not be able to live. This makes no sense, as naloxone is a generic medication available for pennies in other countries. No one should be priced out of the ability to save a life.

“House Bill 631 will allow the State’s Attorney General’s Office to pursue civil litigation and penalties, such as fines, for companies that excessively raise the price of generic drugs. Ensuring that life-saving and life-enhancing prescription drugs remain accessible and affordable is key to promoting the health, wellness and security of families and communities.

“This legislation marks a significant step in making health care more affordable for Maryland families and continues our state’s tradition of being on the forefront of improving health and wellness. We thank the sponsors for supporting this important legislation, and encourage the Governor’s swift signature to make House Bill 631 into law.”

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