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Health care advocates call for more action in cutting Maine prescription drug costs

The recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act allows the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices for some medications, and the legislature has also taken steps aimed at reducing drug costs under MaineCare.

But advocates say these efforts haven't gone far enough.

During a virtual discussion on the issue Thursday, physician and state Rep. Richard Evans of Dover-Foxcroft said he sees patients — including those who rely on Social Security as their primary source of income — having to make tough decisions about their health care.

"If you have a husband and a wife, they have to decide from month to month, OK, this month the husband is going to pay and take his medications, and then the next month the wife gets a turn to get her medications," he said.

The average cost of prescription drugs in Maine increased by 12% between 2020 and 2021, Evans said. And he cited figures from the Maine Health Data Organization, which said prescription drug costs have outpaced inflation tenfold since 2006.