N.J. Gov. Murphy outlines plan to lower prescription drug prices

New Jersey Gov, Phil Murphy talks about a plan to bring down the cost of prescription drugs during a press conference at Willingboro Township Senior Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov, Phil Murphy talks about a plan to bring down the cost of prescription drugs during a press conference at Willingboro Township Senior Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is promoting a legislative package aimed at lower prescription drug costs for residents.

“With these efforts, we will join the growing number of states that are saying enough is enough when it comes to rising drug costs by taking a long look under the hood of the entire process, and then fixing what needs to be fixed,” Murphy said Monday at the Willingboro Senior Center, the same day three of four bills were introduced in the Legislature.

The first bill would place a cap on out-of-pocket costs on certain emergency drugs like insulin, asthma inhalers, and EpiPens. A second would require the collecting, analyzing, and reporting of data on drug pricing from manufacturing to distribution. The third bill would require oversight of pharmacy benefits managers, the third party companies that run prescription drug plans.

Murphy is also seeking a fourth bill that has not been formally introduced yet, that would allow New Jersey to join a multi-state spending pool to negotiate lower drug prices.

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New Jersey Director of the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency Shabnam Salih talks about a plan to bring down the cost of prescription drugs during a press conference at Willingboro Township Senior Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The ideas for the proposals were first mentioned in a memo obtained by NJ Spotlight News that was circulated among lawmakers, staffers, and stakeholders.

The goal is to help people like Dorothy Jean-Baptiste of Willingboro. A chronic asthmatic, she takes several medications daily to keep her symptoms under control. But she said there are times where she can’t afford to buy the medications that she needs, including two inhalers.

“I am the head of household,” she said. “I have obligations to pay. I had a daughter in college, and I commute to and from work.”

Dorothy Jean-Baptiste talks about her struggle to afford prescription medications during a press conference in Willingboro, N.J. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

When she doesn’t have the money for her medications and treatments, she goes to the hospital.

“At all times, I have to find resources and tools to make sure that I tread above water, to be able to afford all of my medications,” she added.

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AARP New Jersey commended the governor’s efforts to lower drug prices.

“We look forward to reviewing the legislative package introduced,” said Evelyn Liebman, the organization’s advocacy director, adding that the state must look at the “high prices set by the manufacturers” which it called “the root cause of the problem.”

“Big Pharma is making billions while seniors and taxpayers are getting ripped off,” Liebman added.

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