Illinois lawmakers introduce bill to create state prescription drug price oversight board

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Julie Sampson, co-director of Citizen Action Illinois, speaks at a news conference introducing a bill intended to make certain medications less expensive in Illinois. | Capitol News Illinois photo by Alex Abbeduto

A new bill in the Illinois General Assembly would create a board of health care experts that would have the authority to set price limits on prescription medications. 

House Bill 4472 was introduced Wednesday by Rep. Nabeela Syed, D-Palatine, and Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria.

Using a variety of information related to the medication’s market, including the number of people taking the medication and its out-of-pocket cost, the board would assess its price. If the board finds it to be unreasonable, it could limit the amount wholesalers, pharmacies and hospitals can bill insurers and consumers for the drug. 

The bill’s sponsors said it was an effort to limit health care costs across the board.

Dr. Anthony Douglas, general surgery resident at University of Chicago, said he sees patients every day who struggle to afford their medication – some of whom cut their pills or skip doses to make their prescriptions last longer. 

“I cannot effectively care for patients if they cannot afford the therapies necessary to keep them well,” Douglas said at a Statehouse news conference to introduce the bill. 

The five-person board would be appointed by the governor and work with a bipartisan 15-member council of legislators and relevant experts to address the price of medications. 

The board would be tasked with assessing high-cost drugs, like ones used to treat cancer, auto-immune disease, and diabetes, as well as other drugs that might impact the state health care system. The board members may receive compensation from a special fund created through an annual tax on prescription drug manufacturers.

The bill had not yet been assigned to committee Wednesday, although House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch signed on as a cosponsor. 

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