AUBURN – A new bill aims to reduce the cost of prescription drugs by making prices comparable to that of Maine’s northern neighbor.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, the bill’s author, Sen. Ned Claxton, said LD 1636 builds off previous legislation to “rein in prices and bring accountability to the prescription drug industry.”

Ned Claxton Submitted photo

Claxton, a Democrat, represents Auburn, Minot, Mechanic Falls, New Gloucester and Poland.

An Act to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs by Using International Pricing would cap the price of 250 of the most costly prescription drugs for Mainers at the price of the same drug in Canada. The state would be required to update the list of the 250 most expensive drugs and corresponding prices in Canada annually and based on costs from the previous calendar year.

Any drug manufacturer or distributor found in violation of the price limits would be fined $1,000 for the first time.

Now retired, Claxton practiced family medicine in the Lewiston-Auburn area for nearly 40 years.


“As a family physician, my goal was always to ensure that every patient who walks through the doors of my practice got the care and medication they needed,” Claxton said.

“However, the cost of prescription medicine proved to be a real barrier for the working-class families in my area. The price patients are expected to pay for prescription medication in the United States is staggering,” especially compared to the price of the same drug in Canada.

Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, called the price of drugs in the U.S. “a scam.”

“It’s a joke. It’s a crime what’s going on in this country,” said Jackson, who introduced his own legislation at Monday’s news conference. It would expand no-cost access to prescription contraceptives established by the federal Affordable Care Act in 2010.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey conducted last fall found that about a quarter of American adults said it is difficult to afford the cost of prescription drugs. The same survey found that three in 10 adults reported that they did not take their prescription medicine as directed over affordability concerns.

“As a physician and patient myself, I know that people are struggling to keep up,” Claxton said. “In Maine, almost one in three adults have skipped a dose of medicine, cut pills in half or didn’t fill a prescription due to the cost last year.”


The brand name medication, Jardiance, which is used to treat Type II diabetes, costs about $22 for Canadians, while Mainers paid $622 for the same prescription in 2019, according to Claxton.

“It doesn’t make any sense. The U.S. drug will on average cost twice what the drug will cost on the other side of the St. John River,” he said.

Ann Woloson, executive director for the nonprofit health coverage advocacy organization, Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care, spoke in support of the bill. She said the organization, which runs a helpline, often hears from Mainers concerned that they will not be able to keep up with the cost of their medications.

Bridget Quinn, an associate state director of advocacy and outreach at AARP Maine, said that in a 2021 survey by the organization, three out of four Mainers over the age of 45 reported that being able to pay for prescription drugs was important to them.

“Too often, our office hears from Mainers who are making impossible choices between paying for the medicines they need and paying for other essentials, like food and heat,” she said.

“This is unacceptable,” she said.

The Maine Legislature’s Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services will hold a public hearing on the bill Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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