Asm. Kamlager Authors Bill to Pave the Way for Reducing Prescription Drug Prices

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

(SACRAMENTO) – As drug prices skyrocket across the country, accessing prescription drugs in the United States has become a burden for many Americans. From importing unregulated prescription drugs to skipping refills, patients have sacrificed their health due to the steep cost of their medications for far too long.

Today, Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 458, the California Affordable Prescription Drug Importation Act, which directs the California Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to launch a prescription drug wholesale importation program, allowing for the importation of safe and affordable drugs from Canada.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s unprecedented economic impact, state efforts to lower drug prices have never been more important. Drug prices have increased by double digits in the last three years. Small businesses continue struggle to provide insurance to employees and their families. 

“There is no justifiable reason for Californians to spend nearly four times more on prescription drugs than individuals in other countries,” noted Kamlager. “The folks hit hardest by these high drug prices are the elderly, the uninsured, and those who are scraping by. No one should have to choose between putting food on the table and taking life-saving medicine.”

Americans spend 40 percent more on prescriptions per person than Canada and twice as much as the average major industrialized country. Approximately 10 percent of American individuals have even resorted to illegally importing medication to try and get a lower price on prescription drugs. 

“Medicines don’t save lives if people can’t afford them. Lawmakers across the country and the aisle have recognized the dire need to reign in runaway prescription drug costs,” Kamlager added. “That’s why these policies have already been enacted or introduced in forty-seven other states, and it’s time for California to join.” 

AB 458 tasks DHHS with establishing eligibility criteria for the types of prescription drugs which may be imported. The highest priority drugs are those that will result in the greatest cost-savings, such as expensive specialty drugs that treat serious or rare diseases. Health insurers, Medicare, Medi-Cal, and most importantly, patients, will benefit from this bill, and California must act on their behalf.

To schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Kamlager, contact Nikki Johnson at (916) 319-2499.

Assembly District 54 consists of Baldwin Hills, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw District, Century City, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Rancho Park, Westwood and parts of South Los Angeles and Inglewood.