Did you know that the average cancer-related drugs in America have increased
in price 500% to 1,000% over the last 15 years? Did you also know that
the end-user cost of prescription drugs covered by Medicare Part B and
Part D increased more than 80% on average in just four years (2011 to
2015)? Pharmaceuticals prices have increased exponentially, forcing many
Americans to choose between life-saving medicine and losing their home.
In an attempt to curb this growing financial crisis, Maryland has recently
implemented new legislation that stops pharmaceutical company “price
gouging.” In particular, House Bill 631 penalizes drug manufacturers
who knowingly increase the price of off-patent, generic, or necessary
medications without being able to cite to a specific increase in production
cost. This might seem like a fairly straightforward concept but it actually
represents the first time legal price regulations have ever been enforced
against drug companies.
The bill puts the power of enforcement into the hands of the attorney general,
who will be tasked with monitoring and overseeing drug costs. If a market
becomes noncompetitive, as in three or fewer manufacturers are able to
produce and sell the drug, the attorney general will investigate the situation
to see if price gouging is occurring. Before penalties are levied, a pharmaceutical
company will be given a reasonable amount of time to explain the price
hike. Penalties include $10,000 fines per violation and, more importantly,
Should Other States Follow Suit?
Maryland’s own Governor Christopher Hogan has been openly vocal about
his disapproval regarding HB 631. Fearing that the restrictions might
actually make prescriptions more difficult to obtain by patients, he is
skeptical of its use as well as its enforceability. It might be found
that the bill actually violates the Constitutional Dormant Commerce Clause,
which deals with interstate commerce. If this is true, the bill could
With these potential issues in mind, other states may be hesitant to follow
in Maryland’s footsteps. Other legislative groups around the country
will be watching the fate of this bill. It is, however, a good indicator
that lawmakers are at least attempting to rein in out-of-control drug
costs to protect consumers.
The Law Offices of Robert Vaage is a trusted San Diego personal injury
law firm that stands up for the rights of people all around Southern California.
If you have been harmed by a defective medical product, including a dangerous drug, you can contact our firm
for legal assistance.