Bills cover drug costs, emissions Elliott urges equal medicine prices

February 04, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll Del. Donald B. Elliott wants to lower the price of prescription drugs and make all state residents share the cost of clean air.

Last week the Republican, who also represents Howard County, introduced two bills in the General Assembly designed to accomplish these goals.

Committee hearings on the bills had not been scheduled yesterday, he said. The bills are:

* Drug pricing -- House Bill 554.

Mr. Elliott, who operates Union Bridge Pharmacy with his wife, Jeanne, expects opposition to the legislation, which would require pharmaceutical companies to stop what he calls "price discrimination."

Companies charge different buyers different prices for the same drugs, he said.

Hospitals, for example, are considered "most favored purchasers" and are charged less than retail pharmacies, he said.

The bill would allow discounts for buying in larger quantities to continue, Mr. Elliott said.

The legislation is modeled after a similar law in Wisconsin, he said.

The delegate said he wants pharmaceutical companies to be more sensitive about the prices they charge.

"As a pharmacist, I'm embarrassed" to charge customers $40 for 30 high blood pressure tablets, for example, he said.

Frederick lobbyist Daniel T. Doherty Jr., who represents the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in Annapolis, has said he would oppose the bill, Mr. Elliott said.

Mr. Doherty could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The bill will be heard in the Economic Matters Committee.

* Vehicle Emissions Fee -- House Bill 573.

All state residents should share in the cost of cleaning up Maryland's air, Mr. Elliott said.

His bill, which has been introduced in past sessions, would require all residents, not just those in counties where vehicle emissions tests are required, to pay an emissions control fee.

Currently, emissions tests are required in the state's eight metropolitan counties. In 1995, six more counties will be included.

The federal Clean Air Act of 1990 has made the tests more stringent and more expensive, Mr. Elliott said.

"All Marylanders should pay for air quality," he said. "It's fair."

Under his legislation, residents would pay a fee when they register their vehicles instead of when their vehicles are inspected, he said.

The fee probably would be less than the cost of the vehicle test, which is expected to increase to $15-$25 because of the Clean Air Act, Mr. Elliott said.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment said he had not read the bill and could not comment about whether the department would support or oppose it.

The bill will be heard in the Environmental Matters Committee, of which Mr. Elliott is a member.

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