Life Science Compliance Update

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August 17, 2017

Ohio “Drug Price Relief Act” Ballot Update


We have previously written about the ballot proposition that is scheduled to be on the ballot in Ohio this November as Issue #2.

– An analysis by former Ohio Budget Director Greg Browning has found that a key claim by proponents of the so-called Ohio Drug Price Relief Act is “simply false and without merit.”

Backers of the November ballot issue have repeatedly asserted that passing the initiative would save Ohio at least $400 million per year. But Browning, who served as Ohio Budget Director from 1991-98, says that in making that claim, proponents appear to have “ignored the significant discounts Ohio currently receives on prescription drugs” and thereby “used faulty logic involving the most basic of relevant policy and fiscal realities.” 

As evidence of the incorrect assertions, Browning notes,

“In FY 2015, Ohio Medicaid spent over $2 billion on prescription drugs for those three million recipients. However, after a mandatory Medicaid discount of 23.1 percent plus numerous additional supplemental rebates that Ohio negotiated, this number was reduced to approximately $1.5 billion. Initiative backers appear to ignore these realities. Instead, they assume Ohio could apply a simple, across-the-board reduction of 20 to 24 percent per year to its current spending.”

Dale Butland, Communications Director for Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue, stated,

“This is a perfect example of why the so-called Ohio Drug Price Relief Act is deceptive and misleading. ODPRA proponents want voters to believe that while the VA receives a 24 percent discount on the drugs it purchases, our state government pays full price. Either they don’t know that Ohio is already getting a huge discount, or they’re intentionally misleading the voters. But either way, their claim that passing the ballot initiative could save taxpayers an additional $400 million per year—on top of the at least $500 million we’re already saving—is utterly preposterous. The truth is that both the VA and the state of Ohio receive significant mandatory discounts on the drugs they purchase, and both negotiate significant additional discounts with drug manufacturers. Ballot issue proponents are great at making wild claims, but not so good at providing evidence to back them up. It’s time they were held to account. How, exactly, did they come up with their $400 million savings figure? It’s time they showed their math.”         

How Does Current Support Shake Out?

Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue announced that its opposition coalition has doubled in size since the campaign launched on May 23. With the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice and the Academy of Medicine of Cincinnati among the latest to join, the number of “no” coalition partners now stands at 61 organizations, up from roughly 30 when the campaign began.    

By contrast, not a single statewide organization has publicly announced its support for passing the ballot initiative. 

According to Campaign Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Though the deceptive prescription drug ballot issue will now be known as Issue 2, it is no less misleading or potentially damaging to Ohio and Ohioans than it was before. It is still unworkable. It could still lead to lawsuits, still give the proposal’s sponsors an unprecedented right to intervene in those court actions and still force taxpayers to pay the sponsors’ legal fees whether they win or lose.

But worst of all, this poorly written proposal won’t save money for the state or lower drug costs for anyone. In fact, every expert who has studied it says it is likely to do the exact opposite: raising drug costs for most Ohioans and reducing access to needed medications for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

That’s why medical organizations representing well over 30,000 Ohio doctors, nurses, pharmacists and hospitals—along with veterans, farmers, businesspeople, organized labor and many others—are sounding the alarm and urging Ohioans to vote ‘no.’ Issue 2 is a prescription for disaster.”

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