Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers will weigh in on drug-cost ballot mea­sure

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Steven Ross John­son

Drug­mak­ers are ready­ing for war against a pro­posed prescription drug cost-con­trol mea­sure on the Cal­i­for­nia ballot in the 2016 elec­tion.

Drug com­pa­nies warn it will spur other state ef­forts. Supporters of the pro­posed Cal­i­for­nia Drug Price Re­lief Act have re­port­edly al­ready col­lected and sub­mit­ted the more than 365,000 sig­na­tures needed to get the mea­sure on the state ballot for 2016.

The mea­sure, if passed, would re­quire drug­mak­ers to pro­vide the same dis­counts to the state as the U.S. Veter­ans Af­fairs Depart­ment re­ceives. The sav­ings would ben­e­fit state agen- cies and pro­grams, such as pris­ons and Med­i­caid.

Drug­mak­ers have mo­bi­lized, rais­ing $23 mil­lion since Nov. 3 to fight the ballot mea­sure, ac­cord­ing to state records.

The fate of the Cal­i­for­nia mea­sure could have large im­pli­ca­tions for the rest of coun­try. Ad­vo­cates head­ing up the Cal­i­for­nia ef­fort are at work in Ohio, where sig­na­tures are be­ing col­lected to get a sim­i­lar pro­posed mea­sure, the Ohio Drug Price Re­lief Act, on the 2016 ballot in that state.

It is un­clear what kind of im­pact ei­ther mea­sure would have on low­er­ing drug costs.

Some fear drug com­pa­nies would sim­ply shift costs to non­govern­ment pay­ers, such as pri­vate in­sur­ers, which could cause pre­mi­ums to rise.

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