Ohio Secretary of State Turns Away 194,375 Voter Signatures on Ohio Drug Price Ballot Measure, Citing Outcome of Pending Litigation
COLUMBUS, OH (August 31, 2016) In response to an ongoing legal battle over a proposed Ohio ballot measure that would lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio, attorneys and backers of the measure, known as the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, today attempted to file voter signatures in support of the measure, which backers intend to place on the November 2017 statewide ballot.
However, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted refused today to accept the petition to place the drug pricing issue on the ballot before voters for next year, questioning whether the measure’s backers have a right to file until the OSC rules on a pending legal case before the Court in which the backers seek recovery of additional prior voter signatures which backers believe Husted had illegally stricken.
“At about 3:30pm today, we attempted to file the Supplementary Petition seeking to have the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act move forward and submitted to the voters. We presented 22 boxes of petitions—10,063 petitions with 194,375 signatures,” said Don McTigue, attorney at law with the firm McTigue & Colombo, which is representing backers of the ballot measure. “After not being permitted to file the petition today, we immediately filed a Motion for Emergency Relief with the Supreme Court seeking an order to permit us to file the Supplementary Initiative Petition. We also asked yesterday that the Secretary accept our petition on a conditional basis, but he rejected that option.”
“Secretary of State Jon Husted is once again showing his true colors as a front man for Big Pharma, carrying water for a greedy, morally bankrupt industry that is one step above the tobacco industry in the eyes of the public—including 7.7 million registered voters in Ohio,” said Tracy Jones, Midwest Regional Director & National Director of Advocacy Campaigns and a proponent of the Drug Price Relief Act. “This is what Jon Husted is trying to prevent Ohioans from voting on: having Ohio state programs pay no more for drugs than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays. As an example: the now notorious Epi-pen—a lifesaver for children and others having allergic reactions. Mylan, the drug company, raised the price of its Epi-pen to $608. The V.A. price is $183. If legislatures won’t act to rein in such extreme and unwarranted drug pricing, voters certainly should have the chance to weigh in. We strongly urge Secretary Husted to allow this measure to be placed before voters.”
According to the Columbus Dispatch, “Husted’s office said in a motion filed this afternoon that a court ruling and state election law do not permit the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to file a full supplemental petition at this time. As a result, Husted said he will not accept a new filing by the foundation expected later this week.” The Dispatch also reported, “The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the foundation can submit more signatures, but indicated, albeit without clarity, that the issue may have to go back to the General Assembly instead of directly to the ballot. As an initiated statute, the drug issue must first be presented to lawmakers who have four months to act on the proposal. If lawmakers do not act, the petitioners can gather a new round of about 91,000 valid signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot.”
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.
 V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.