Legal action, filed as a Complaint in Original Action in Mandamus with the Supreme Court of Ohio today, seeks to restore voter signatures in support of a ballot measure to lower drug prices for state programs that the citizens’ committee backing the measure allege were improperly invalidated by Secretary Husted.
The Court had previously dismissed, without prejudice, a lawsuit seeking restoration of the voter signatures, writing at the time that the lawsuit was “premature,” pending the resolution of a separate, but related OSC lawsuit brought by PhRMA seeking to invalidate voter signatures on the ballot measure.
On Monday, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a ruling in the PhRMA case denying most of PhRMA’s claims and objections on the signatures; however, one part of the ruling now compels backers of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to collect an additional 5,044 voter signatures by August 25th—making the backers’ prior legal action to restore the voter signatures urgent, and no longer “premature.”
COLUMBUS, OH (August 17, 2016) Members of the citizens’ committee sponsoring the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act filed a new legal action (Case No. 2016-1235) today with the Supreme Court of Ohio against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted over voter signatures in support of a ballot measure to lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio that backers allege were unlawfully invalidated by Secretary Husted earlier this year. The Legal action was filed as a Complaint in Original Action in Mandamus with the Supreme Court of Ohio earlier today.
The Supreme Court of Ohio had previously dismissed (without prejudice) a lawsuit by members of the drug pricing ballot measure citizens’ committee that was seeking restoration of the voter signatures, writing at the time that the backers’ lawsuit was “premature,” pending the resolution of a separate, but related lawsuit brought in the SCO by PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, the lobbying association of large drug manufacturers) in conjunction with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association seeking to invalidate voter signatures on the ballot measure.
On Monday, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a ruling in the PhRMA case denying most of PhRMA’s claims and objections on the signatures; however, one part of the ruling now compels backers of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to collect an additional 5,044 voter signatures by August 25th—making the citizens’ committee’s prior legal action to restore the signatures urgent, and no longer “premature.”
In its lawsuit, the Ohio drug pricing advocates assert:
“The instant action is a re-filing of State ex rel. Tracy L. Jones, et al. v. Jon Husted, et al., Case No. 2016-455, but is more limited in scope based on the Court’s August 15, 2016 decision in Ohio Mfrs. Assn. v. Ohioans for Drug Price Relief Act, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5377 which invalidated 10,303 signatures from the petition proposing the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to the General Assembly (“the Petition”), leaving the Petition 5,044 signatures below the constitutionally required threshold. However, the Court in Ohio Mfrs. Assn. also held that it is improper to invalidate part-petitions because they contain signatures crossed out by someone other than the circulator, signer, or signer’s attorney-in-fact. The instant action seeks to recover such signatures that were rejected by Respondent and various county boards of elections. The recovery of these signatures would more than make up the deficiency and further would moot the portion of the Court’s decision that “[i]f the secretary certifies enough valid signatures, then he shall resubmit the initiative to the General Assembly, in accordance with the terms of the Ohio Constitution, Article ii, Section 1b.” Id. at ¶47.”
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. Backers intended to have the initiative appear on Ohio’s November 2016 presidential election ballot, but obstructionist—and backers believe, illegal—moves by Secretary of State Husted have forced the ballot measure proponents to aim for the November 2017 Ohio ballot instead.
“Secretary of State Jon Husted rode roughshod over local County Board of Elections that twice certified voter signatures for the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act when he eliminated those signatures, an act that thwarted attempts to get this measure before voters and on the ballot in Ohio,” said Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the sponsor and primary funder of the measure. “Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in the PhRMA case forces backers to gather an additional 5,044 signatures by August 25th in order to compel Secretary Husted to transmit the proposed law to the Ohio legislature, as legally required under the Ohio Constitution. However, the ruling also appears to overturn Husted’s invalidation of more than 20,000 signatures previously thrown out by him. The committee is now suing to get further clarity from the court and restore those other signatures—which are more than enough to force Husted to advance this measure for consideration and possible action by the Ohio legislature as the next step in the process of ultimately bringing this drug pricing issue before Ohio voters in ballot measure form in November 2017.”
 V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.