Contentious battle mounting over prescription drug ballot measure

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to pay less for prescription drugs?

Opponents of Issue Two on the ballot for this November 7th say that’s exactly what supporters of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act are hoping to capitalize on by trying to trick voters into voting yes.

The ballot issue is being backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a $1.4 billion non-profit organization headed up by Michael Weinstein.

Weinstein attempted to get a ballot issue just like Issue Two passed in California last year.

Voters rejected that measure, 53 to 47 percent.

Supporters of Issue Two say big pharma is trying to keep the status quo by backing the opposition.

Voters will decide whether or not to prohibit the state of Ohio from purchasing prescription medication for more than the lowest price the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for the same product.

Since 1992 the VA has been getting a mandatory discount of at least 24 percent on prescription drug purchases for veterans.

Currently, in Ohio, the state gets approximately a 23 percent discount.

Both groups are able to negotiate even deeper discounts.

Supporters of Issue Two say, this would stick it to big pharma, setting off a chain reaction around the country where other states would start demanding the same discounts Ohio receives, and then private insurers may do the same, until the market is revolutionized.

But that’s exactly what those opposed to the measure say is dangerous.

They say the pharmaceutical companies have no obligation to sell to anyone, so if the price drops below a certain amount they could just simply not offer the drug here.

They also claim that like other aspects of health care, the costs could be shifted to people who already have insurance, because this ballot issue only applies to the drugs the state buys and not those pharmacists purchase and sell to insured consumers.

The state of Ohio only purchases about 5 percent of the prescription drugs in the country.

Here is a link to the entire text of the measure.

It should be pointed out that paragraph G is significant.

According to oppositionists, it is the first time something like this has been done in Ohio and would allow three people who work for Weinstein to intervene if the measure passes voters and is challenged legally.

A list of supporters for and against the measure, as of July 28th, can be found here.

Many of the supporters of the issue are individuals, while those in opposition appear to be statewide groups.

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