Medi-Cal Formulary, Lawsuit Provisions Spur Opposition to Proposition 79
Provisions of Proposition 79 relating to medications' inclusion on the Medi-Cal formulary and lawsuits against pharmaceutical firms have contributed to drug makers' opposition to the measure and support for Proposition 78 in the Nov. 8 special election, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/2).
Proposition 79, a measure supported by Health Access California and a coalition of labor groups, would require 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 exceed 400% of the federal poverty level. State residents who spend more than 5% of their annual income on health care also would be eligible to participate in Proposition 79's drug discount program. In addition, people could sue a pharmaceutical company if they believe it is participating in illegal pricing practices.
Proposition 78 would establish a voluntary prescription drug discount plan for state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. The measure is supported by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (California Healthline, 10/28).
Drug manufacturers worry that their industry could be severely damaged by the provisions, which the say potentially could result in costly lawsuits and government price controls (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/2).
In total, 30 contributors have provided about two-thirds of the estimated $300 million spent for the Nov. 8 special election, and 11 of the state's biggest donors this year are drug manufacturers who have raised more than $80 million in favor of Proposition 78 and in opposition to Proposition 79, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Supporters for Proposition 79 have raised about $500,000, according to the Chronicle (Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/2).
One editorial and three opinion pieces addressing Propositions 78 and 79 were published on Wednesday. Summaries appear below.
Contra Costa Times: A Times editorial called for voters "to soundly reject" Propositions 78 and 79, adding that if both measures are defeated, legislation (SB 19) similar to Proposition 78 will "most likely ... have a new life." The editorial states, "Then an intelligent drug-discount program that helps those who need it most could be initiated" (Contra Costa Times, 11/2).
- Earl Lui, San Diego Union-Tribune: "California deserves a better deal" than what Proposition 78 is offering, Lui, senior staff attorney for Consumers Union's West Coast office, writes. Lui recommends that state residents vote "yes" on Proposition 79 "to give California the power to rein in high prescription drug costs with discounts that can be enforced (Lui, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/2).
- Joseph Panetta, San Diego Union-Tribune: "Proposition 78 is the only program that can provide meaningful assistance to those in need without turning low-income patients or the state's economy into collateral damage," Panetta, president and CEO of BIOCOM, writes. He concludes that Proposition 78 would "put prescription drugs in the hands of patients and maintain the ability of our industry to innovate and create new, lifesaving therapeutics" (Panetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/2).