Studies Compare Drug Discounts From Programs Similar to Propositions 78, 79
A prescription drug discount program in Maine that is similar to California's Proposition 79 has reduced the price of generic drugs by 50% and the price of brand-name drugs by 25%, according to a study released Thursday by Prescription Drug Choices of Hallowell, Maine, the Portland Press Herald reports.
Under the Maine Rx Plus program -- which was launched on Jan. 1, 2004 -- the state negotiates drug prices for the uninsured. If a drug company is uncooperative, the state can impose restrictions on its drugs for the state Medicaid program. The study looked at 36 common prescription drug distributed under the program.
According to the study, prices for generic drugs under the program were 30% lower than prices in Ohio, where a voluntary discount program similar to California's Proposition 78 was launched this year. Prices for brand-name drugs were 7% less in Maine, according to the study.
Before either program was launched, retail drug prices were 9.9% lower in Ohio than in Maine, the study found.
Californians for Affordable Prescriptions, a group funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, on Thursday released a study of 12 generic and eight brand-name drugs distributed by the Ohio and Maine programs.
The study found that the generic drugs were 20% less expensive in Ohio, and the brand-name drugs were 46% cheaper in Ohio. According to the study, half of Maine pharmacies participate in the Maine Rx Plus program, compared to more than 90% of pharmacies in Ohio that participate in the state's discount program.
A Public Policy Institute of California poll released on Thursday found that 43% of voters in California favor Proposition 78, 38% are opposed and 19% are undecided. Thirty-four percent of voters favor Proposition 79, 40% are opposed and 26% are undecided, according to the poll (Jansen, Portland Press Herald, 9/30).
The poll is available online.
Proposition 79 "opens the door to an endless chain of frivolous lawsuits that threaten to put the drug makers out of business," John Graham, director of health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute, writes in an Orange County Register opinion piece. Proposition 78 is "a better, more sound and workable proposition," Graham writes, concluding that voters must "look past an emotional response to an often-unpopular industry and make the choice that will actually lower prescription drug prices" (Graham, Orange County Register, 10/3).
Additional information on Propositions 78 and 79 is available online.