No on 61: Prescription drug pricing

Kristine Wong/Staff

The drug industry is powerful and needs to be reigned in. Medicines can mean the difference between life and death. When they are priced to extremes, it establishes a world where good health and longevity belong to the wealthy.

Though Proposition 61 is a valiant attempt at holding that industry back, it leaves drug companies with too much power to react negatively. We have to come out against it.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates mass prices with drug companies every year and uses its large buying power to force cheaper prices. Proposition 61 would limit the price of drugs purchased through Medi-CAL to the amount paid by the VA.

The idea is that low-income Medi-CAL users would then receive the benefits of cheaper drugs.

But the drug companies wouldn’t accept this without a fight. The industry would inevitably retaliate by limiting the VA’s ability to negotiate prices so as to keep higher prices overall — and even if Medi-CAL and the VA retained their negotiating power, prices for everyone else would rise to counteract the losses.

At this point, the proposition leaves the pharmaceutical industry enough power to work around its limits and continue to wreak havoc on the good people of California. Reform is overdue, but Proposition 61, unfortunately, isn’t the right answer, so voters should reject it.

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