- The pharma industry is fighting back against drug pricing ballot measures in California and Ohio, lobbying against initiatives designed to limit the amount state programs pay for drugs.
- The measures seek to cap the amount these programs pay at no more than the price paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Stat reports. The VA usually pays a lower price for drugs.
- However, the pharma industry has amassed $34 million to campaign against the measure in CA. In Ohio, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) trade group successfully lobbied the government to review activist signatures petitioning for the ballot measure, according to Stat.
The VA receives a prescribed 24% percent discount on drug list prices, in addition to being able to negotiate with drug companies to further lower prices. Other public programs, like the federal Medicare, are not allowed to negotiate on price, obviating the potential negotiating leverage from these programs' size.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has led the two initiatives and hopes these measures, if successful, could be a model for other states to pursue. Activists are pushing to get the California Drug Price Relief Act and the similarly named Ohio Drug Price Relief Act on ballots in 2016.
Even if the measures pass, however, the pharmaceutical industry may have recourse to other strategies. Stat reports pharma companies would likely sue and argue federal law governing state MedicAid programs trumps any new state law. Additionally, the companies could alter what they charge the VA in order to maintain higher prices.