By Judy Packer-Tursman

Maine is “forging new ground” with its recent enactment of a comprehensive prescription drug reform legislative package, the National Academy for State Health Policy says. The Pine Tree State, however, is not alone in its efforts. NASHP reports that 47 states had filed 269 bills to control prescription drug costs as of July 7 — with 46 such laws enacted this year in 29 states.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, on June 24 signed into law four bills to:

✦Set up a wholesale prescription drug importation program with approval from HHS.

✦Create a Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board.

✦Further expand drug price transparency.

“The Maine bill goes beyond other states’ transparency bills because it requires reporting from each entity in the supply chain about past and projected costs and revenues at the individual drug level,” NASHP says.

✦Prohibit PBMs from retaining rebates paid by prescription drugmakers, requiring those rebates to be passed along to the consumer or the health plan.

Maine Association of Health Plans Executive Director Katherine Pelletreau said in comments emailed July 10 that the group “shares the concerns about the rising cost of prescription drugs, but remains concerned these bills avoid addressing the root causes of the problem — the list prices set by manufacturers.”

“These new laws may have unintended consequences for consumers and insurers,” says Pelletreau. “While we appreciate the legislature’s intent, the high cost of prescription drugs will likely persist as these bills focused largely on the distribution and health insurance coverage for drugs, rather than the manufacturing and price setting process.”