Lt. Gov. Candidate Pushes for More Aggressive Approach to Prescription Drug Costs

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(Host) Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Cheryl Rivers says the state needs to take a much more aggressive stand to help lower the cost of prescription drugs. Rivers says the Douglas administration has failed to show any real leadership on this issue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Rivers argues that the state needs to employ several different strategies to lower the cost of prescription drugs. She thinks lawmakers should take the following steps next winter: support the re-importation of drugs from Canada; license drug manufacturers and sales representatives and use the money generated from this fee to boost consumer education programs; require drug companies to report their best prices to the state every three months; and create a Drug Cost Management Council which will develop additional proposals to help lower drug costs.

Rivers says she’s disappointed that the state has not taken a leadership role to make prescription drugs more affordable:

(Rivers) “All these things add up. It’s not one thing that we need to do, it’s several things. And they add up to a significant failure to maximize the state’s bargaining power and significant failure on the part of the administration and the Legislature to address these issues.”

(Kinzel) Rivers says a number of other states, including West Virginia, Maine and Minnesota, are developing creative ways to lower drug costs and she thinks Vermont should move in the same direction:

(Rivers) “We’ve been a sitting back hiding behind that argument that Vermont can’t do it alone for about four years now. And it’s time that we stepped up to the plate and recognized that if we want leadership on this issue we have to start looking in the mirror.”

(Kinzel) Administration Secretary Mike Smith disputed Rivers’ claim that the governor hasn’t shown enough leadership on the prescription drug issue. Smith says Douglas has sued the federal government to be able to re-import drugs from Canada, he’s helped create a multi-state purchasing plan for Medicaid participants and he’s working to increase the use of generic drugs:

(Smith) “The governor is looking at a multitude of areas dealing with drugs. The record of Governor Douglas is clear and the rhetoric of people contending that he isn’t doing anything is simply untrue.”

(Kinzel) Candidate Rivers says incumbent Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie has been “missing in action” over this issue over the last two years. Contacted at the Republican National Convention in New York City where he’s a delegate, Dubie said he would withhold any response until after Rivers’ primary with former state Senator Jan Backus.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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