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New State Law Aiming To Lower Prescription Drug Prices Takes Effect

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A state law taking effect in Maryland Monday will take on large pharmaceutical companies by creating a prescription drug affordability board tasked with tackling rising prescription costs.

Board members will be fighting to make prescription drugs more affordable in the state, including putting a cap on prices for some medications.

The law will have a huge impact on Parkinson's disease patient Larry Zarzecki.

"You're now looking at about $4,000 a month," he said, showing off twelve pill bottles.

It was a life-changing diagnosis followed by sticker shock.

"I'm now one of the patients who fall under the heat, eat or treat," Zarzecki said.

Starting Monday, the new state law will try to tackle the cost crisis that so many patients like Zarzecki face in Maryland.

It establishes a prescription drug affordability board, designed to set maximum costs for certain expensive medications, something physicians and politicians have long fought to create.

"For a lot of people, their drugs are more than their housing costs, more than their food costs," said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman.

One of the lawmakers behind the push to pass the law was Democratic delegate Bonnie Cullison.

"It puts us in a mode where we are going to try to demystify prescription drug pricing," she said.

The process of drug pricing ins mind-boggling, Cullison said.

"This board is designed to deal with that issue, because what that issue results in is prescription drugs being too expensive to buy," she said.

The next step will be to appoint members of the board.

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