New Hampshire is a great place to live, work, and raise a family, but there is always more that can be done to help those who are struggling. This morning, I will join patient advocacy groups, doctors, hospital officials, members of law enforcement, lawmakers and patients in Laconia to sign two important pieces of legislation that are critical to the future of our state’s health care system. The first, HB-1791, will help substantively lower the cost of prescription drugs. The other, SB-376, seeks to proactively address the growing threat of methamphetamines in New Hampshire.
Americans struggle with some of the most expensive prescription drug prices in the world and while this unfortunate reality impacts all Granite Staters, it hits our seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes, particularly hard. The problem is especially pronounced given our state’s aging population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Hampshire has the third oldest median age in the country. Put simply, high prescription drug cost is a serious barrier for our seniors being able to access the lifesaving drugs that they need.
HB-1791 positions New Hampshire to take advantage of opportunities to lower those costs. This will allow pharmacists to fill a prescription with a less expensive biosimilar drug once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved access to that drug. Biosimilars are less costly imitations of drugs known as biologics, which are used to treat a range of diseases including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and anemia. But they are different from generics in that they are not exact copies. By providing more treatment options, biologics also bring down the cost of prescription drugs through increased competition.
With the enactment of HB-1791, New Hampshire will be positioned to take advantage of cost savings once the FDA has approved one or more of these medications. This is something that could increase accessibility of these cutting edge drugs while also saving millions of dollars in costs.
Increasing patient access to more affordable, FDA-approved generic and biosimilar medicines is a proven and tested solution to lowering prescription drug costs. As such, this may be the most significant piece of legislation enacted this year aimed at helping patients get greater access to more affordable prescription drugs in New Hampshire.
Additionally, SB-376 is another example of how we are working to address one of the growing drug problems our state is facing. With the cooperative efforts of law enforcement, as well as the companies that manufacture cold medicines and the state’s independent and chain drug stores, SB 376 will be one more tool deployed to deal with the growing problem of illegal methamphetamine labs.
This bill changes how retailers in New Hampshire record the customer information that is required under Federal law when purchasing products that contain pseudoephedrine, which is used to make illegal methamphetamine.
As the 35th state to take advantage of new technology, retailers will have real-time access to see if a customer has exceeded or is about to exceed the federal purchase limits by purchasing products at multiple stores, thereby giving retailers the ability to deny a sale if it is in violation of the Federal standards. It also gives New Hampshire’s law enforcement quicker access to records to investigate illegal purchases of these products.
As a fiscal conservative, I am pleased to share this online "real time" system has no cost to taxpayers because it is paid for by the companies that manufacture cold medicines. While it is not the answer to the entire meth problem we face, it is one more tool that will be used as we wage the fight.
(Chris Sununu of Newfields is governor of New Hampshire. He is a Republican.)