PhRMA Files Suit To Prevent Certification of Labor-Sponsored Ballot Measure Addressing Prescription Drug Costs
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court alleging that a proposed ballot measure addressing prescription drug costs violates the state constitution, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 5/13).
The measure was filed by the Alliance for a Better California -- a coalition of labor unions, consumer groups and advocates for the elderly -- and 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 (California Healthline, 5/11).
In the lawsuit, filed April 18, PhRMA alleges the portion of the ballot measure that says the state "shall work with the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO" to establish 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."
The lawsuit also seeks to prevent election officials from verifying petition signatures submitted Tuesday. Signatures must be verified to allow the measure on the ballot.
According to the Times, the lawsuit is "the latest in a months-long industry effort to derail the potential initiative and kill pending legislation" by Assembly Majority Leader Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) that the Alliance initiative was based upon.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday.
PhRMA representative Merrill Jacobs said, "It's a clear-cut violation of the constitution. This is the first of what we view as several legal problems."
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said, "The drug companies are so scared of facing the voters that they're going to try to use every legal loophole to try to prevent us from going before the voters" (Los Angeles Times, 5/13).
PhRMA has submitted signatures for its own ballot measure to address prescription drug costs (California Healthline, 5/11).