Court Denies PhRMA Request for Early Decision on Legality of Proposed Prescription Drug Cost Ballot Measure
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge on Monday declined to expedite a decision on whether to grant a request by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to block county election officials from counting and validating signatures for a proposed ballot measure to address prescription drug costs, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 5/18).
PhRMA on April 18 filed a lawsuit alleging that the proposed ballot measure, filed by the Alliance for a Better California -- a coalition of labor unions, consumer groups and advocates for the elderly -- violates the state constitution. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent election officials from verifying submitted petition signatures, which is required for the measure to be placed on the ballot.
The ballot measure would require drug makers to provide discounts on medications to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level.
Under the proposal, pharmaceutical manufacturers that do not provide discounts would be banned from participating in Medi-Cal. The measure would provide discounts on prescription drugs to about 10 million California residents.
In the lawsuit, PhRMA alleges that a portion of the proposed ballot measure that says the state "shall work with the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO" to establish a prescription drug purchasing program for small employers violates the state constitution. According to the lawsuit, the state constitution prohibits an initiative from being submitted to voters if it "names or identifies any private corporation to perform any function or have any power or duty" (California Healthline, 5/13).
Elections officials expect to know by next month whether measures will qualify for the ballot. For a special election to be held on Nov. 8, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) must call for an election by mid-June (Los Angeles Times, 5/18). PhRMA has submitted signatures for its own ballot measure to address prescription drug costs (California Healthline, 5/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.