PhRMA Plans To Spend More Than $8.2 Million in Campaign Against Prescription Drug Discount Proposal
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America plans to spend more than $8.2 million for a campaign against a proposed ballot measure that would require pharmaceutical companies that sell medications to Medi-Cal to provide discounts for as many as 10 million uninsured state residents, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Elias, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/11).
Under the proposal, uninsured California residents who have annual incomes that do not exceed the federal poverty level or spend more than 5% of their income on medical expenses would qualify for discounts. Pharmaceutical companies that did not provide the discounts could not participate in Medi-Cal (California Healthline, 3/23).
PhRMA supports a rival proposal supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) that would allow pharmaceutical companies to provide discounts voluntarily to a smaller number of state residents. Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) has introduced a bill (SB 19) to enact the proposal.
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access -- which developed the proposal opposed by PhRMA -- said, "If you are going to provide affordable drugs to the poor, you need to give the state of California a hammer instead of relying on the good will of the industry. We want to use the purchasing power of California to leverage better discounts for Californians that don't have health insurance."
However, PhRMA spokesperson Dave Puglia said that the proposal "would kill venture capital investment" in the state's biotechnology industry and that it "punishes patients and uses them as leverage" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/11).