Life Science Compliance Update

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July 10, 2017

The Ohio “Drug Price Relief Act” Has Some Enemies


In November 2017, the state of Ohio will have a proposed statute included on the ballot for voters to approve, known as the “Ohio Drug Price Relief Act.” The proposal was written by California activist Michael Weinstein, the same author of California’s “Proposition 61,” which was not only defeated (53% to 47%) in the 2016 election season, but was also opposed by every major newspaper in the state.

The Ohio proposition would prohibit Ohio from paying more for prescription drugs than the lowest price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. It would also give the four co-sponsors of the ballot issue an unprecedented right to intervene – at taxpayer expense – in any post-election legal challenge that may be filed against the initiative or its implementation.

It is expected that this ballot issue will likely gain its fair share of enemies, the way California’s similar proposition did. So far, there is one seemingly well put together group, Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue. The coalition is made up of associations of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychiatrists, veterans groups, at least one faith alliance, and business groups. The Ohio Manufacturers Association and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce are also members.

“There are seven million Ohioans, about 64 percent of the state’s population, who don’t get their drugs through the state programs they get it through private insurance, insurance provided by employers, Medicare for example is not covered under this anyway, so if this thing were workable and if the drug companies were forced to sell to the state like any other business they make that up by raising prices for those of us who aren’t covered by this which is the majority of people of our state,” said Coalition spokesman Dale Butland.

The Coalition has put together several well thought out fact sheets: a summary of Deceptive Rx Issues, a info sheet about why the proposal is bad for business, a fact sheet about why the proposal is bad for patients and health care providers, a fact sheet focused on why it is bad for taxpayers, and a fact sheet on the negative effects the proposal will have on veterans.

The Coalition, In Its Own Words

According to Coalition Campaign Manager Curt Steiner: 

While everyone agrees that Ohioans need access to affordable medicines, this deceptive and vaguely worded initiative won’t fix the problem or do what it promises. In fact, experts who have studied the proposal—including three former Ohio Medicaid Directors and a former state Budget Director—say it’s not only unworkable, but could actually increase prescription drug costs for the majority of Ohioans and reduce patient access to needed medications. The so-called Drug Price Relief Act is a Trojan Horse we can’t afford to let into our state.

Dale Butland agreed, adding

That’s why more than 30 Ohio organizations and associations so far—representing doctors, nurses, patients, veterans, organized labor and the business community—have joined together to oppose this misguided ballot initiative. Starting today, we’ll be supplementing our voter education efforts with a robust paid media campaign that will run on broadcast and cable TV all across the state, as well as on mobile and digital platforms. We urge all Ohioans to get the facts at Once voters know the truth, we’re confident they will give this ballot issue the defeat it so richly deserves.

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