by Brandon Jarvis

Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed legislation Monday that would have created a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in Virginia. The board could have set upper payment limits on particular prescription drugs if they believed pharmaceutical companies were charging too much. 

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville, was the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill

“I am disappointed to see the Governor vetoed this good, bipartisan bill,” he said. “Virginians need commonsense solutions to lower the cost of living, and this legislation presented that opportunity to prioritize hardworking people over big drug companies. I hope my colleagues will join me in doing the hard work to make medicine more affordable and to drive down the cost of living.”

“While it is imperative to lower drug prices, it must not compromise patient welfare,” Youngkin said in his veto statement. “The proposed authority granted to the Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) would allow medication availability to be determined based solely on cost considerations rather than accounting for the expert opinions of healthcare professionals and the unique medical needs of individual patients. This approach could limit access to treatments and hinder medical innovation, especially for life-threatening or rare diseases.”

Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, cosponsored the legislation in the Senate. He did not provide a comment Monday night. 

The board would have been comprised of a small, independent group of healthcare experts. 

Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax, sponsored the legislation in the House of Delegates. 

“Virginians like my diabetic child need action to address the prescription drug affordability crisis,” she said. “Skyrocketing prescription drug costs affect everybody: our seniors, our families, our children, and it’s up to us to solve this issue and rein in out of control costs. I won’t stop fighting to make sure no one has to choose between paying for their prescriptions and paying for other necessities.”

The AARP strongly supported this bill and lobbied legislators and the governor to pass it. 

“AARP is disappointed that Governor Youngkin vetoed this commonsense legislation,” said Jim Dau, AARP Virginia State Director. “Virginians across the state have made very clear that they expected action to address the unaffordable costs of life-saving medication, and they overwhelmingly support the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. General Assembly members in both parties answered the call, but today’s veto is a step backward to helping many people afford their cost of living – and their cost of staying alive.”

The legislation passed 23-16 in the Senate and 50-47 in the House. 

Freedom Virginia sponsored a statewide campaign after the legislative session completed to encourage Youngkin to sign the bill. 

“Prescription Drug Affordability shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican issue, it should simply be a Virginia issue,” said Rhena Hicks, Executive Director of Freedom Virginia. “Rest assured, after making huge progress this year, we will keep fighting for Virginians’ financial freedom next session.”

As Politico first reported in March, drug companies also worked hard to encourage Youngkin to veto this legislation. 

“The Commonwealth should prioritize patient well-being, maintain access to essential medications, and support healthcare innovation,” Youngkin said. “We can do all this and lower the cost of prescription drugs for Virginians.”

PhRMA applauded the governor for his veto.

“We applaud Governor Youngkin for not only protecting access to medicines and the patient-doctor relationship but for safeguarding biopharmaceutical companies’ ability to invest in important life-saving treatments for those who need it most,”  said Stami Williams, a PhRMA spokeswoman.

The General Assembly returns to Richmond on April 17 to take up Youngkin’s amendments and potentially override his vetoes.

By vascope