Prescription-drug costs have skyrocketed in recent years, and a bill before the Massachusetts General Court aims to rein them in.

The proposal would lower co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for drugs such as insulin and asthma inhalers. It also would create a commission to review certain drug costs to make sure they are not unreasonable or excessive.

Alyssa Vangeli, co-director for policy and government relations at Health Care for All, said many medications treat chronic conditions disproportionately affecting BIPOC and low-income communities.

“This is particularly important from a health-equity perspective,” Vangeli explained. “Improving access to affordable medications is one way to help curb racial inequities in access to prescription drugs, particularly for those with chronic conditions.”

The bill passed the state Senate yesterday. More than 20% of Massachusetts adults responding to an Altarum survey said they either skipped doses, cut pills in half or did not fill a prescription because of concerns over the cost. Opponents say lowering prices could limit drug research.

More than 80% of respondents said they support measures from requiring drug companies to provide advanced notice of price increases, to setting standard prices for certain drugs, to prohibiting companies from charging more in the U.S. than abroad.

Vangeli added there is no time to waste.

“We know that individuals and families need immediate relief now from rising out-of-pocket costs,” Vangeli observed. “The pandemic has also revealed the devastating impact that uncontrolled chronic conditions can have when people are not able to afford and access the medications they need.”

Vangeli noted in addition to support from the state Senate, members of the state House have also expressed interest. She hopes the bill will pass by the end of the legislative session, so Commonwealth residents can get the relief they need.

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