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Offered by: Representatives Poirier of Barre City and Tracy of Burlington.

Whereas, prescription drugs are the most rapidly growing component of health care in the New England region and in the country, providing treatment essential to the health of citizens of our states, and

Whereas, total retail expenditures on prescription drugs in most New England states have approximately doubled over the past six years, and national pharmaceutical expenditures during that time have grown at a rate approaching 15% a each year while inflation has ranged below 3% a year, and

Whereas, the pricing of most prescription drugs marketed and developed in the United States is clearly excessive, especially for those drugs still under patent protection and therefore not subject to either government regulation as a monopoly good nor to price competition in an open market, allowing U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers to be among the most profitable industries in the world, and

Whereas, the response of Congress has been to enact legislation only to ensure that federal programs, such as the Veterans Administration and Medicaid, enjoy lower prices for prescription drugs, while it has insisted on maintaining statutory and constitutional barriers to states who may similarly wish to protect their citizens, and it has upheld federal policies which have exacerbated the excessive prescription drug prices imposed on most citizens of the states, and

Whereas, in the United States, in the absence of any form of national regulation of prices of patented drugs, pharmaceutical manufacturers can and do charge ordinary Americans monopoly-like prices which exceed those charged in any other country in the world, and

Whereas, on average, in the United States prescription drugs are priced 34% higher than the same products sold in Canada, and a Congressional study of the 10 prescription drugs most purchased by seniors in the United States found that such drugs cost on average 80% more than the same drugs in Canada, and

Whereas, U.S. citizens pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and such excessive prescription drug prices are particularly harmful to the people of this state who can least afford them - the uninsured and senior citizens, working families, and families confronting serious illnesses like cancer, AIDS, and chronic health problems, and

Whereas, lowering the price of prescription drugs and providing more affordable access to needed prescriptions will lower overall health care costs by helping avoid hospital and emergency care, surgery, and other expensive medical treatment, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

On behalf of the people of the state, that this legislature immediately address the problem of excessive prescription drug prices, and be it further

Resolved: That we seek and demand fair prescription drug prices for all our citizens, and that prices for prescription drugs must be at a level no greater than that negotiated and paid by the federal and provincial governments of Canada for their citizens or the prices paid in the U.S. pursuant to the Federal Supply Schedule (FFS), and be it further

Resolved: That although the most effective solutions are national and the responsibility of Congress, we recognize that because of the default of Congress, we must seek to build a multistate or regional coalition of New England states and beyond, perhaps including our neighboring Canadian provinces of Quebec and the Maritimes, and be it further

Resolved: That as a coalition, we explore together strategies to access lower prescription drug costs in the near term, as well as target the underlying cause of high prescription drug costs, the excessive pricing by manufacturers of prescription drugs, and that these strategies include, but are not limited to:

(1) coordinating the passage and adoption of model state legislation to reduce prescription drug prices and guarantee to our citizens access to prescription drugs at lower prices,

(2) working with other states in the New England region and elsewhere to establish joint prescription drug pricing and purchasing agreements, and

(3) developing multistate proposals, agreements or compacts for price regulation of prescription drugs for all citizens, and be it further

Resolved: That we strongly endorse the efforts of the leaders of the Legislatures of the New England states to build such a multistate regional New England coalition to address these problems of excessive prescription drug pricing; that we take pride in its formation here, in Montpelier, Vermont on December 16, 1999; that we extend our appreciation and thanks to our colleagues from other New England state legislatures who joined with us at that time to work together for the benefit of the people of all our states; and that we offer our full support for the further progress on regional cooperation at the next meeting of the New England Legislative Leaders Conference on Prescription Drug Pricing in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 11, 2000.