PhRMA, in “Act of Desperation,” Sues to Block Ohio Drug Pricing Initiative from Nov. 2016 Ballot

In Advocacy, News by AHF

Drug industry trade group is terrified of having to face voters and answer directly to consumers for exorbitant price gouging and policies by one of the most reviled industries in America today. 

The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act would require state programs to pay the same or less for prescription medications as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.

 COLUMBUS, OH (February 29, 2016) Backers of an Ohio ballot initiative addressing inflated drug prices today sharply criticized the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the drug industry’s deep-pocketed trade group, for filing a lawsuit to block the ballot initiative from even appearing on the November 2016 ballot. The lawsuit was filed earlier today in the Supreme Court of Ohio (Case # 2016-313) challenging The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, a citizen-driven ballot initiative that will revise Ohio law to require state programs pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription medications. V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.

“This is a desperate move by the pharmaceutical industry and the special interests who support them to keep Ohioans from voting on a proposed law that would dramatically lower prescription drug costs for consumers,” said Don McTigue, an attorney with McTigue & Colombo LLC in Columbus who has been working on behalf of the the ballot initiative supporters. “In addition, regarding claims made in PhRMA’s lawsuit: PhRMA is wrong about the laws governing citizen petitions. On February 4th, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted determined that the initial ballot petition was valid and that it contained sufficient valid signatures of Ohio registered voters—96,936—from all across Ohio. As such, and as required under Ohio’s Constitution, Secretary Husted transmitted the proposed law to the General Assembly for its consideration. PhRMA has now waited 25 days before filing this action, causing prejudice to the petition committee and undue delay. Further, it is unclear whether they have even filed in the correct court.”

“This lawsuit is an act of desperation by Pharma and its well paid minions and a clear indication that the pharmaceutical industry knows that they simply cannot win their case on drug pricing with the public at the polls in November,”  said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the primary financial supporter of the Ohio initiative as well as a similar drug pricing measure in California. “As drug pricing is shaping up to be one of the most potent presidential campaign issues this year, we urge the Ohio legislature to quickly bring the ballot initiative language to the floor for an up or down vote so that we may then collect the next round of signatures necessary to put this initiative before voters in November.”

Backers of the drug pricing initiative submitted 116,015 voter signatures, far more than the 91,677 needed to qualify the initiative. Ohio’s General Assembly has four months to consider and act on the measure—until June 3rd, 2016. If they take no action or vote it down, backers of the measure must again collect the same number of signatures (91,677) to put the measure before voters in November.

AHF Lauds Congressman Hal Rogers for Supporting Preservation of the 340B Drug Discount Program
CDC Releases Plan to Prevent 185,000 HIV Infections by 2020, Fails to Mention Condoms