Ohio Drug Pricing Advocates File Federal Lawsuit Seeking Injunction against Secretary of State Husted over Ballot Initiative, Notes AHF

Federal lawsuit seeks “ … temporary, preliminary and permanent
injunctions ordering Defendant Secretary of State to immediately certify
the sufficiency of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act Initiative Petition
and to immediately transmit the Proposed Law to the Ohio General
Assembly for consideration … ”

COLUMBUS, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Members of Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices filed a federal lawsuit [Case:
2:16-cv-00038-JLG-NMK Doc. #:1] and motion for a temporary restraining
order [Case: 2:16-cv-00038-JLG-NMK Doc. #:2] yesterday in United
States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern
Division against Ohio Secretary of State John
Husted
seeking a temporary restraining order and declaratory relief
over Husted’s failure to transmit language for a proposed law to Ohio’s
General Assembly after local election officials in all 88 Ohio counties
certified their respective voter signatures to qualify the initiative.
The proposed law, The
Ohio Drug Price Relief Act
, is a citizen-driven ballot
initiative that will revise Ohio law to require state programs 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. The federal lawsuit
was filed by McTigue, McGinnis & Colombo LLC on behalf of the four
individual proponents of the drug pricing initiative as well as AIDS
Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a backer of the initiative that has a major
presence in Ohio offering HIV prevention, testing and HIV/AIDS treatment
services in the state.


Backers of the drug pricing initiative intend to have the ballot measure
appear on the November 2016 presidential election ballot; however,
Secretary Husted’s actions—or failure to fulfill his statutory
obligation to act—appear to be a well-coordinated, well-financed
drug industry attack to thwart that goal.

The federal action seeks“ … temporary, preliminary and permanent
injunctions ordering Defendant Secretary of State to immediately certify
the sufficiency of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act Initiative Petition
and to immediately transmit the Proposed Law to the Ohio General
Assembly for consideration and that January 5, 2016, the first day of
the General Assembly’s current session, be deemed the transmittal date
or, alternatively, that the July 6, 2016 deadline for filing a
supplementary petition be adjusted to account for days lost by the delay
in transmittal of the Proposed Law to the General Assembly.”

“This proposed law should have been transmitted to the General Assembly
on January 5th, the opening day of Ohio’s 2016 legislative
session. However, Secretary Husted failed to fulfill his clear statutory
obligation and transmit our initiative language and the proposed
law to the Assembly. Instead, he returned all the signature petitions to
local election officials, issuing a directive
instructing them to, ‘ … re-certify their findings to the Secretary of
State’s Office no later than January 29, 2016,’’’ said Tracy
Jones
, Executive Director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland
and one of the four Ohio citizen proponents of the initiative. “Husted’s
actions were driven by a complaint letter filed by Bricker & Eckler LLC,
a Columbus law firm representing the Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America or PhRMA, the drug industry’s powerful and
deep-pocketed trade group. We are seeking redress in federal court for
among other things, to compel Secretary Husted to transmit the proposed
law to the Assembly for its consideration and possible legislative
action.”

On Monday of this week, proponents of the drug pricing ballot measure
filed a separate emergency motion with the Supreme
Court of Ohio (Case
# 2016-20
) asking that the proposed drug pricing law language be
submitted to the General Assembly immediately by Secretary Husted while
the case is pending.

“As a matter of law, Secretary Husted cannot simply decide to send the
petitions back to the county boards to be rechecked and not transmit the
proposed law on to the Assembly,” said Don McTigue, Attorney at
Law with McTigue, McGinnis & Colombo LLC. “Given that the local boards
had already reviewed and certified the petitions in accordance with his
instructions—and that the boards reported that there are more than
sufficient valid signatures—he must under the Ohio Constitution transmit
the proposed law to the General Assembly. Because Secretary Husted is
unwilling to fulfill his statutory obligation, we are seeking the
court’s assistance so that this proposed law on drug pricing can be
placed before the Ohio legislature and if needed, before Ohio voters in
November.”

Background on The
Ohio Drug Price Relief Act

On August 3, 2015, Ohio
Attorney General Mike DeWine approved petition language for a 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 began in earnest August 19th
in Ohio.

At that time, the Cleveland.com
website (the Northeast Ohio Media Group) reported, “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.”

Backers of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act submitted 116,015 voter
signatures, far more than the 91,677 needed to qualify the initiative.
In the last week of December, after local election officials of Ohio’s
88 counties had certified their respective signatures, backers were
awaiting the formality of the Secretary’s official certification of
signatures and his subsequent transmission of the proposed initiative
language to Ohio’s General Assembly when Secretary Husted instead
returned the signature petitions and then failed to transmit the
proposed law to the Assembly.

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
575,000 individuals in 35 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

OHIO:
McTIGUE McGINNIS & COLOMBO LLC
Don
McTigue,
Attorney at Law
614-263-7000
or
CALIFORNIA:
AHF
Ged
Kenslea,
Senior Director, Communications
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526
mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org