As prescription drug prices continue to shoot higher, a New Jersey lawmaker has unveiled a plan he says would them more affordable for all Garden State residents.

Legislation introduced by State Senator Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

The board would study the entire pharmaceutical distribution and payment system in New Jersey as well as policy options being used by other states and countries to lower prescription drug costs.

A companion measure would establish requirements for state entities to enter into bulk purchasing arrangements for pharmaceutical drugs. The director of the Division of Purchase and Property within the state Department of the Treasury would be required to review all state pharmaceutical purchasing arrangements, contract and initiatives, and look at different options to maximize the state’s bargaining power with prescription drug products and pharmacy services.

“Together these two proposals will seek to drive down prescription costs through collaboration and negotiation, ultimately benefiting the people of New Jersey,” he said. “It is our hope that our combined efforts to bring collaboration, cooperation and competition to the marketplace will help to drive down the costs for these needed prescriptions.”

Singleton said we are at a tipping point because “prescription drug prices are escalating at an unprecedented and frankly unsustainable rate.”

He said between 2012 and 2017 “prescription drug prices rose 58% in New Jersey. Nearly 1 in 4 New Jersey residents now adjust their doses to save money.” Singleton said the data is courtesy of the AARP.

Maura Collinsgru, the health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action, said the plan would help Jersey consumers rein in prescription drug costs that continue to spiral out of control.

"Pharmaceuticals are being turned into luxury items beyond the reach of the people who need them," she said. "This is a crisis that is costing us all and we cannot allow the status quo of pharmaceutical industry price setting to go unchecked.”

She said pricing must be addressed at the state and federal levels.

Singleton said initially the bulk purchasing arrangements that would be created would impact state workers, “but it’s our hope that private interests will also want to be a part of the cooperative.”

He added it is not yet clear which legislative committee would consider his legislation, but he’s hoping for bipartisan support, passage of the measures and quick action by the governor.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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