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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  • Pilar Schiavo Johnson

    Wow! this is a shocking position. Big Pharma is pouring in more money than ever recorded in CA history to defeat Prop 61 and you’re siding with them? If they will get to raise prices why would they oppose it. And newsflash: they can and will raise prices any time and anywhere they want to. Your article fails to note that Vets are protected by federal law against increases (RX increases are restricted to CPI, which was less than 1% last year). The truth is, Prop 61 is the only chance we have nationally to take power from Pharma in the form of a price control and that is why they are fighting it. Their own publication ( called it “ground zero” for the fight on cost controls and said Prop 61 would establish “deep discounts” that other states would also demand. This is an opportunity to stop pharma’s greedy practices and that’s why nurses, seniors, vets, patients and voters overwhelmingly support Prop 61 (with exception of your editorial board and those on pharma’s payroll: