Supporters Say They Have Enough Signatures for Rx Price Initiative
Supporters of an initiative that aims to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in California say they have gathered enough signatures to place the proposal on the November 2016 ballot, Reuters reports (Bernstein, Reuters, 10/28).
Details of Initiative
The California Drug Price Relief Act, which is supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, would impose price controls on drug purchases funded -- directly and indirectly -- by the state.
Specifically, the proposal would mandate that the state pay the same or less for drug purchases than the rates paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. California currently pays billions of dollars for drugs -- both directly, such as for prison health care, and indirectly, such as for Medi-Cal and CalPERS managed care plans. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Drugmakers so far have donated more than $10 million to defeat the initiative (California Healthline, 10/7). According to Reuters, the ballot measure is likely to continue generating pushback from the pharmaceutical industry (Reuters, 10/28).
Meanwhile, proponents have raised more than $1.25 million to support the measure (California Healthline, 10/7).
In an interview, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said the organization has collected nearly 550,000 signatures -- more than the nearly 366,000 necessary to qualify ballot proposals.
The group plans to submit the signatures on Nov. 2, according to Reuters.
Weinstein said that discontent over high prescription drug prices would lead to support for the measure. He said, "If prices are lower, the burden on taxpayers is going to be lower."
However, Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the campaign against the initiative, said, "If it goes forward, we will be preparing a campaign to educate voters in California about its negative consequences," noting that the measure "may look simple," but it could "have adverse consequences for Californians" (Reuters, 10/28).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.