AHF: Ohio Supreme Court Denies PhRMA Motions on Drug Price Ballot Measure; Backers to Restart Voter Signature Gathering June 5th

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Aggressive actions by drug industry’s trade group and Secretary of State John Husted to prevent a ballot measure to lower drug prices for state programs from getting on the Ohio ballot fall short.

In a 6 to 1 ruling earlier today, the Supreme Court of Ohio denied three PhRMA motions intended to derail the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act from appearing on a ballot before Ohio voters. Backers of the ballot measure will now begin collection of second portion of required voter signatures this Sunday, June 5th.

COLUMBUS, OH (June 2, 2016) Advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and members of Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices today welcomed a ruling by the Supreme Court of Ohio denying three legal motions by lawyers for PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), the drug industry’s trade group, intended to prevent a ballot measure to lower drug prices for state programs from getting on the Ohio ballot. Despite aggressive actions by both PhRMA and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to prevent the measure from getting before Ohio voters, today’s Supreme Court 6 to 1 ruling shortstops PhRMA’s efforts and allows backers of the measure to begin collecting the second round of required voter signatures starting this Sunday, June 5th. The group now has until July 6th to collect the needed additional signatures.

The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act will amend Ohio law to require state programs to pay the same or less for prescription medications as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs [1]. Backers intended to have the initiative appear on Ohio’s November 2016 presidential election ballot. However, on January 4th, Secretary of State Husted defied his statutory obligation regarding certification of voter signatures and delayed (by one full month) transmitting the proposed law to the Ohio legislature, as legally required under the Ohio Constitution, despite the fact that local election boards had twice certified voter signature petitions. The court still has to rule on whether Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices will be granted an additional month beyond the July 6th signature gathering deadline to compensate for the month-long delay by Secretary Husted. Backers of the measure believe that Husted’s action was an illegal political move at the bidding of a PhRMA law firm that has contributed over $44,000 to Husted’s elections over the years.

“We take today’s ruling as a sign that the Court is not accepting PhRMA’s efforts to delay reaching a decision on the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act and will now ramp up with our second phase of signature gathering bright and early Sunday morning,” said Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the sponsor and primary funder of the measure.

[1] V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.

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