Over $20M in ads to hit Ohio air­waves

Vot­ers to see pros, cons of pre­scrip­tion drug price bal­lot ini­tia­tive.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE -

Get ready to see more ads from both the sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of state Is­sue 2, the pre­scrip­tion drug price bal­lot ini­tia­tive.

The cam­paigns have al­ready been sat­u­rat­ing Ohio air­waves with ads urg­ing vot­ers to adopt or re­ject the mea­sure, and spend­ing on me­dia is ex­pand­ing start­ing this week.

The “Ohio Drug Price Re­lief Act,” which vot­ers will see on the Nov. 7 bal­lot, would re­quire that state agen­cies like the De­part

ment of Med­i­caid pay the same or lower prices for pre­scrip­tion drugs as the U.S. Depart­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs.

Pro­po­nents say the mea­sure will save the state be­tween $350 mil­lion and $400 mil­lion an­nu­ally that could be used for other state pro­grams, like fight­ing the opi­oid epi­demic. The op­po­si­tion — fi­nan­cially backed by big pharma, but made up of dozens of or­ga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent­ing veter­ans, doc­tors, nurses, phar­ma­cists and busi­ness — says the mea­sure is un­work­able and won’t pro­duce the promised re­sults. They say it could ac­tu­ally lead to higher drug prices for the ma­jor­ity of Ohioans who get pre­scrip­tions through pri­vate or em­ployer in­sur­ance. So far, the ad war has been lop

sided in fa­vor of the op­po­si­tion, Ohioans Against the De­cep­tive Rx Bal­lot Is­sue, which has out­spent sup­port­ers by about 5 to 1. That trend is ex­pected to con­tinue as

the No cam­paign is funded by the deep-pock­eted Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal

Re­search and Man­u­fac­tur

ers of America (PhRMA), a trade or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents dozens of ma­jor drug com­pa­nies.

Ohio Tax­pay­ers for Lower Drug Prices, the pro­po­nents, is mostly funded by the AIDS Health­care Foun­da­tion, a Cal­i­for­nia non­profit that serves AIDS pa­tients around the globe, in­clud­ing through sev­eral phar­macy lo­ca­tions in Ohio.

Ac­cord­ing to the Colum­bus Dis­patch, Is­sue 2 op­po­nents have pur­chased about $19.5 mil­lion in air­time, in­clud­ing about $1.7 mil­lion for the cur­rent week be­gin­ning Wed­nes­day. Those num­bers in­clude ads on both broad­cast and a va­ri­ety of ca­ble chan­nels in 11 cities, in­clud­ing three in West Vir­ginia, ac­cord­ing to the Dis­patch.

T he anti-is­sue sp e nd- ing for the week is high- est in the three Cs: Cleve- land ($380,261), Cincin­nati ($354,119), and Colum­bus ($284,147), records show.

Is­sue 2 pro­po­nents have spent or pur­chased about $4 mil­lion on tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing, in­clud­ing roughly $1 mil­lion in the cur­rent week, ac­cord­ing to the Dis­patch re­port­ing.

Matt Borges, for­mer GOP state party chair and a sup­porter of the bal­lot is­sue, said the ads are ramp­ing up be­cause this is the time when vot­ers start re­ally pay­ing at­ten­tion.

“We’re up against an on­slaught of spend­ing by the drug com­pa­nies who are try­ing to con­fuse vot­ers,” he said.

Dale But­land, spokesman for the op­po­si­tion, said the cam­paign is fight­ing an uphill bat­tle to ed­u­cate vot­ers.

“Their whole pitch is, ‘You want lower drug prices? ... Vote yes,’” he said. “That’s a very at­trac­tive propo­si­tion to peo­ple, be­cause so many peo­ple are strug­gling to pay their drug costs. So what we have to do is ex­plain to peo­ple that some­thing that sounds re­ally good, is not in fact a good idea, will not do what it prom­ises, and in fact will only make things worse. That’s a much more ex­pen­sive propo­si­tion than the other side.”

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent cam­paign fi­nance re­ports, which were filed June 30, PhRMA gave $15.8 mil­lion to the op­po­si­tion cam­paign. AHF con­trib­uted nearly all of the $3.6 mil­lion that Is­sue 2 propo

nents re­ported re­ceiv­ing. The next fil­ing dead­line is not

un­til late Oc­to­ber, a cou­ple of weeks be­fore the elec­tion.

The cam­paign could end up be­ing the most ex­pen­sive in Ohio his­tory. A sim­i­lar mea­sure in Cal­i­for­nia,

with backi ng from t he same two sides, was de­feated last year 53 per­cent to 47 per­cent. For that cam­paign, sup­port­ers spent $19 mil

lion and op­po­nents nearly $110 mil­lion.

THE COLUM­BUS DIS­PATCH FILE PHOTO

If ap­proved, Is­sue 2, an ini­ti­ated statute, would limit state ex­pen­di­tures on pre­scrip­tion drugs for about 4 mil­lion Ohioans.

Matt Borges

Dale But­land

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