Retiree Donna Weiner shows some of the daily prescription medications that she needs and pays over $6,000 a year through a Medicare prescription drug plan at her home. In Maryland, there’s a new prescription drug affordability board to scrutinize hundreds of medications. Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP.

The sometimes sky high prices of prescription medications for Medicare and Medicaid patients in Maryland may be a thing of the past in the coming years if a new state board is successful. The Maryland Prescription Drug Price Affordability Board, the first of its kind in the state, released its first annual report Tuesday. Board members say they’ve got big goals next year which includes forcing price limits on pharmaceutical companies.

“What we published today was an update on our cost review process,” said Andy York, executive director of the board. “As part of that process, we have to identify the drugs that are eligible for these cost reviews. It’s a series of a few hundred drugs right now.”

The next step is for the board to work through what the cost review process will look like and then determine which drugs are deemed unaffordable.

Nationwide, there were more than 1,200 prescription drugs with prices outpacing the rate of inflation in the past year. The cost of some medications jumped by nearly $20,000, according to the report.

Maryland’s Medicare and Medicaid programs spent more than $6.8 billion for prescription medications in 2019, compared to $6.4 billion in 2018.

The report identified which medications cost the most and state leaders deem unaffordable, such as Eliqus, the brand name of a pharmaceutical medication that reduces the chance of blood clots due to irregular heartbeats.

It’s been a long struggle between state governments responsible for running Medicaid and Medicare programs to insure the oldest and poorest residents and businesses which develop and manufacture medications.

Insurance companies often pass on higher prescription drug prices to consumers in a private insurance market. But the state government can’t do that for residents relying on Medicaid and Medicare.

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.