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Senate Human Services Committee looking at prescription cost control bills

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The Senate Human Services Committee will hear a trio of bills designed to help lower prescription costs.

Two of the bills would allow North Dakota to buy medications wholesale from Canada. A third would use price data from the four most populous Canadian provinces to compare with US drug prices, and set the lowest price as the referenced rate for payers in North Dakota – in effect, importing the “price,” rather than the drugs.

Those programs would be administered by either the Health Department or the Board of Pharmacy.

AARP is supporting bills that lower drug costs.

"Between 2012 and 2017, the average annal cost for a brand-name drug used on a chronic basis was around  $6800 -- $1000 more than it was in 2015," said AARP State Director Josh Askvig. "Between 2012 and 2017, the average eannual cost of prescriptioon drug treatment rose 57.8 percent."

Askvig said those were really good years in North Dakota.

"But average annual incomes only went up 6.7 percent at that time," Askvig said.

Askvig saids the average older North Dakotan takes 4 ½ prescription drugs on a chronic basis.

"You come to realize rather quickly what the problem is," Askvig said.

Askvig said an AARP survey also showed 44 percent of respondents had decided not to fill a prescription because of the cost of the drug.

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