Campaigns for Prescription Drug Measures on Special Election Ballot Expected To Be Most Costly
The "costliest fight" prior to the Nov. 8 special election likely will involve Propositions 78 and 79, two measures that are intended to help reduce prescription drug costs, the Los Angeles Times reports (Morain/Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 8/2).
Proposition 78 would establish a voluntary prescription drug discount program for some state residents. The measure, supported by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, would ask pharmaceutical companies to provide voluntary discounts to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level.
The measure is modeled on California Rx, a prescription drug discount plan proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) earlier this year. The Senate Health Committee in April rejected a bill (SB 19) that would have enacted the proposal. California Rx would have provided discounts to about five million state residents (California Healthline, 7/7).
According to the Times, pharmaceutical companies reported raising $29 million in support of Proposition 78 as of June 30 and another $22 million in July. Several companies donated $9.8 million -- including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck -- while others donated $4 million, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 8/2).
Proposition 79 would establish a mandatory prescription drug discount program. The measure would require pharmaceutical companies to provide discounts to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level (California Healthline, 7/7). Pharmaceutical companies would have to participate in the program or face exclusion from the Medi-Cal formulary in some cases (California Healthline, 8/1).
Health Access California and a coalition of labor groups support the measure. About 10 million California residents would qualify for discounts under the measure (California Healthline, 7/7).
The Alliance for a Better California is paying costs associated with Proposition 79, and details of the group's expenditures were not reported.
According to the Times, both Proposition 78 and Proposition 79 are "attracting attention" on a national level as pharmaceutical companies worry that the outcome of the vote on the two measures could affect the national debate, political experts say.
Anthony Wright of Health Access, which supports Proposition 79, said that pharmaceutical companies are "spending all this money because they're scared by voter anger about unfairly high drug prices."
Denise Davis, a spokesperson for the pharmaceutical industry's campaign, said, "California is obviously a big state," adding, "It tends to be a state that is watched" (Los Angeles Times, 8/2).