- The Lost Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation collected 550,000 signatures to support a drug-pricing referendum on next year's ballot. Only 366,000 valid signatures are needed.
- The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has proposed that the state should pay the same amount for drugs as the federal Veteran's Administration, which obtains heavily discounted drugs from pharma companies via intense negotiating.
- The pharmaceutical industry is poised to fight back, and hard, with a campaign account of $10 million to support its efforts.
Although the drug-pricing controversy is very much in play right now, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, headed by Michael Weinstein, has been working on this issue for years. It seems that at this point, the timing is fortuitous and finally the issue is going to the voters.
It won't necessarily be an automatic home run, however, despite the conflagration of support for lower drug prices at this point. The pharmaceutical industry is geared up for a fight, with solid financial contributions from companies including Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and others.
Weinstein is confident, however, that something could come of the referendum. Assuming that this is successful it could have a huge impact on other states, especially considering the fact that California is the largest state in the U.S. The organization is currently backing a version of this measure in Ohio as well. If the referendum is voted in and pricing is on par with prices negotiated by the V.A., it could easily translate into 20% to 25% discounts—a substantial win for payers and major gut-punch to pharma.