Proposition 78, Proposition 79 Study Results Fail To Corroborate Prices
Officials from prescription drug discount programs in Ohio and Maine on Thursday testified at a legislative hearing on Propositions 78 and 79, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 10/7).
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.
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. Under Proposition 79, people could sue a pharmaceutical company if they believe it is participating in illegal pricing practices (California Healthline, 10/5).
Proposition 78, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has endorsed, is based on Ohio's Best Rx, a program that allows pharmaceutical companies to offer voluntary discounts. Proposition 79 is based on the Maine Rx Plus program, which "theoretically" allows the state to use financial leverage to make drug companies lower costs, the Bee reports.
The Proposition 78 and Proposition 79 campaigns last week each released studies that used drug programs in Ohio and Maine as comparisons for the California proposals. The studies "reached different conclusions" about which program reduced prescription drug costs more because "there's no real data" available to compare, according to the Bee.
Jennifer Lopez, head of Ohio's Best Rx, said the state has negotiated discounts from pharmaceutical companies on about 60% of brand-name drugs, and hopes to negotiate more. About $150,000 of the $1.6 million in savings Ohio participants have seen are a result of discounts from drug companies, Lopez said.
Jude Walsh of the Maine governor's office said the state in January plans to implement additional discounts between 7% and 40% on brand-name drugs. Walsh said, "One of the things we found is that when you provide market share, manufacturers tend to work with you" (Sacramento Bee, 10/7).
Additional information on Propositions 78 and 79 is available online.
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Thursday reported on protests for Pfizer's "KPBS News" support of Proposition 78. The segment includes comments from Guy Carguilia with the California Alliance For Retired Americans (Ford Roth, "KPBS News," KPBS, 10/6). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.