ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A prescription drug affordability board in Maryland that is the first of its kind in the nation has scheduled its first meeting next month, leading state lawmakers announced Friday.

All five members have been appointed, and the first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13.

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“With the Prescription Drug Affordability Board members in place, the difficult work now begins,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, said. “The multi-year effort to stand up this independent agency is a critical first step in building the infrastructure necessary to bring transparency and new ideas to the fight to control runaway drug prices.”

The board is looking for office space in Prince George’s County.

Lawmakers approved legislation this year to create the independent body, which will evaluate and investigate the cost of particularly expensive prescription drugs or ones whose prices abruptly increase.

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If the board determines a medication presents an affordability challenge for Maryland residents, the board can set an upper payment limit that state or local health care plans would agree to pay for the drug.

Before the board can set upper payment limits, it will study and report back to the legislature on the entire prescription drug supply chain and offer policy options to lower drug prices in addition to setting upper payment limits for state and local government health plans.

Gov. Larry Hogan recently appointed Dr. Joseph Levy of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to the board. He joins former Maryland Health Secretary Van Mitchell, who will chair the board; Dr. Eberechukwu Onukwugha of the University of Maryland; Dr. George Malouf; and Dr. Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins.

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