New Mexico Senate Passes Bill To Lower Prescription Drug Costs

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New Mexico Senate Passes Bill To Lower Prescription Drug Costs

SANTA FE ― New Mexico has an opportunity to save millions of dollars a year in prescription drug costs for state agencies and its employees and retirees.  

Senate Bill 131, which passed Friday on the Senate floor, would create an interagency pharmaceutical council to coordinate prescription drug and pharmacy services for state agencies who purchase pharmaceutical drugs. The council would also look for cost savings opportunities for all New Mexicans who purchase prescription drugs.

“Using state buying power and bulk purchasing to negotiate for cheaper prescription drugs could save the state millions,” says bill sponsor Senator Jeff Steinborn (D – Las Cruces). “Not only that, but by having this Council seek out cost saving opportunities for all prescription buyers, this legislation could help everyday New Mexicans currently struggling with rising prescription costs. It is long overdue for us to adopt these proven strategies, and I look forward to seeing the bill get passed in the House and signed into law by Governor Lujan Grisham.”

Citizens pay a huge cost for high drug prices. In fiscal year 2018 New Mexico state government spent over $700 million on prescription drugs, a staggering 59% increase over a four year period. Senate Bill 131 would leverage the purchasing power of all of our state agencies who purchase prescription drug benefits including the Departments of Health, Human Services, Corrections, Medicaid, General Services Department, UNM, and other agencies, to aggressively pursue lower drug prices. This bill has passed the legislature with broad support in previous years only to be vetoed by former Governor Martinez without explanation.

Aggressively negotiating lower prescription drug prices could save New Mexico’s state government millions every year.  It can be done. The U.S. Department of Veterans of Affairs negotiates at least a 24 percent discount on the drugs it buys. Many other industrialized countries pay a fraction of what U.S. citizens and governments pay for the same drugs. Members of Congress have sought for decades to leverage the federal government’s purchasing power for Medicare, but have been fought tooth and nail by the pharmaceutical industry.

The pharmaceutical industry, one of the most profitable in America, has spent millions of dollars fighting efforts in Congress and in Legislatures across America to get citizens a better deal on prices. In addition, the industry continues to make large contributions to politicians to maintain their foothold of opposition to reform.