Groups Consider Future Efforts on Prescription Drug Costs, Parental Notification
The defeat of Propositions 78 and 79 on Tuesday's special election ballot "bought only a temporary reprieve in the drug cost debate, and maintaining the status quo will be a shaky prospect at best," according to some political and health industry experts, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Crabtree, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/13).
Proposition 78, which was defeated by a margin of 41.5% to 58.5%, would have established a voluntary prescription drug discount plan for state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. The measure was supported by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Proposition 79, which was defeated by a margin of 38.9% to 61.1%, was supported by Health Access California and a coalition of labor groups. The measure would have required drug makers to participate in a prescription drug discount program or face exclusion from the Medi-Cal formulary in some cases. To qualify, state residents' annual incomes could not have exceeded 400% of the federal poverty level. State residents who spend more than 5% of their annual income on health care also would have been eligible to participate in Proposition 79's drug discount program. In addition, people would have been allowed to sue a pharmaceutical company if they believed it was participating in illegal pricing practices (California Healthline , 11/10).
Some analysts said pharmaceutical companies would have preferred for Proposition 78 to have passed because the Legislature would have needed a two-thirds majority vote to make any changes to the measure. Lawmakers now could pass legislation with a majority vote that contains more stringent provisions for drug makers, according to the Union-Tribune (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/13).
Anthony Wright of Health Access said the group likely will pursue prescription drug reform by working with the Legislature, rather than through another ballot measure. Wright said he hopes the industry will participate in the negotiations rather than engage in another campaign battle.
PhRMA could not be reached for comment, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Sheppard, Los Angeles Daily News, 11/12).
However, PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin last week said, "While no one knows now what form new legislation would take, we are committed to being part of the solution to helping the uninsured get the medications they need" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/13).
In other special election news, Mike Spence, a board member of the California Pro-Life Council and president of the California Republican Assembly, said Proposition 73 would have passed had there been a better-financed, more aggressive campaign, the Orange County Register reports (Wisckol, Orange County Register, 11/11).
Proposition 73 would have amended the state constitution to require health care providers to inform a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on an unmarried minor. Under the measure, a girl could have sought a judicial bypass and would have received no-cost legal counsel, a confidential hearing and a ruling within three days on whether she could receive an abortion without notifying her parents (California Healthline , 11/10).
According to Spence, future efforts to pass a similar measure will be more difficult because opponents of Proposition 73, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, have built a foundation of support against the measure (Orange County Register, 11/11).