AHF to Submit 550,000 Signatures for 2016 Drug Pricing Ballot Measure in California

Group will file 550K signatures throughout California by November 2nd
deadline, far more than the 365,880 signatures needed to qualify measure
for November 2016 California ballot; AHF is also mounting similar drug
pricing measure in Ohio for 2016.

California Drug Price Relief Act will require state officials to pay
no more for prescription drugs than the Department of Veterans Affairs,
which generally pays 20% to 24% less than any government program.

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Drug pricing advocates affiliated with AIDS
Healthcare Foundation
(AHF) announce they will file close to 550,000
signatures of registered California voters with state election officials
by Monday, November 2nd in order to qualify The
California Drug Price Relief Act
, a statewide ballot initiative that
will revise California law to require state programs to pay no more for
prescription medications than the prices negotiated by the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs. The V.A. generally pays 20% to 24% less
than any government program. The advocates intend to qualify the measure
for the November 2016 presidential election ballot in California.

Separately, advocates from AHF and ‘Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices’ have
been collecting voter signatures in Ohio for a similar drug pricing
ballot measure since mid-August. State officials approved petition
language in early August. Both the California and Ohio measures are
expected to qualify for, and appear on the November 2016 presidential
election ballots in their respective states.

The
California Drug Price Relief Act

To qualify the California measure, 365,880 valid signatures of
registered voters are needed (5% of all votes cast for governor in the
most recent statewide election, which was held in November 2014).
However, as a cushion, advocates, who began collecting signatures in
early April, will continue to collect signatures up until the October
filing deadlines. Signatures are to be submitted to the respective
counties statewide, and after signature certification, the ballot
measure is expected to be placed on the November 2016 California ballot.

“As of August 16th, we had already collected enough
signatures to qualify our California ballot measure, which, when passed
by voters in November 2016, will compel state officials to obtain V.A.
pricing—by far, the lowest pricing available to any government
agency—for the purchase of prescription drugs for use in state
programs,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare
Foundation and one of the citizen proponents of the California measure.
“If California—and Ohio—are able to pay the same prices for prescription
drugs as the amounts paid by the United States Department of Veterans
Affairs, it would result in significant savings to taxpayers. These
ballot initiatives are necessary and appropriate to address public
concern about runaway drug pricing.”

“Nationally, prescription drug spending increased more than 800 percent
between 1990 and 2013, making this one of the fastest-growing segments
of health care,” said Tracy Jones, Executive Director of the AIDS
Taskforce of Greater Cleveland
and one of the citizen proponents of
the Ohio measure. “Spending on specialty medications, in particular,
such as those used to treat HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and cancers, are
rising faster than other types of medications. In 2014 alone, total
spending on specialty medications increased by more than 23 percent. And
although Ohio has engaged in efforts to reduce prescription drug costs
through rebates, drug manufacturers are still able to charge the state
more than other government payers for the same medications, resulting in
a dramatic imbalance that must be rectified. That is why we are mounting
this initiative, bringing the critical issue to legislators and, if
necessary, directly to Ohio voters if the legislature fails to act.”

The
Ohio Drug Price Relief Act

On August 3rd, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved
petition language for a similar drug pricing ballot initiative in Ohio
seeking Department of Veterans Affairs pricing for state programs. On
August 13th, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the proposed statute as a
single issue. As a result, that measure, backed by AHF and Ohioans for
Fair Drug Prices, was cleared for signature gathering—an effort that
will begin in earnest today in Ohio.

According to the Cleveland.com
website (the Northeast Ohio Media Group), “Supporters can now begin
collecting the 91,677 signatures of registered Ohio voters required to
put the issue before the Ohio General Assembly. State lawmakers would
then have four months to act on the legislation. If they reject or
change the proposed law, supporters then have the chance to collect
another 91,677 signatures to put the issue before voters.”

According to the Ohio petition language, “The Ohio Drug Price Relief
Act would enact Section 194.01 of the Ohio Revised Code to require that
notwithstanding any other provision of law and in so far as permissible
under federal law, the State of Ohio shall not enter into any agreement
for the purchase of prescription drugs or agree to pay, directly or
indirectly, for prescription drugs, including where the state is the
ultimate payer, unless the net cost is the same or less than the lowest
price paid for the same drug by the U. S. Department of Veterans
Affairs.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
492,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare
and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director,
Communications, AHF
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Christopher
Johnson,
Associate Director of Communications, AHF
+1.323.960.4846
work
+1.310.880.9913 mobile
christopher.johnson@aidshealth.org