Drug companies are
expected to pour $100 million into an effort to squash the referendum in what
will be a test of the industry’s strength at a time of growing consumer
backlash against drug prices. The initiative would require the state to pay no
more for prescription drugs than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — one
of the few federal agencies allowed to negotiate drug prices.
From the industry’s
perspective, California could set a dangerous precedent. Besides having an
economy the size of many small countries, the liberal bastion is often a
laboratory for new ideas that take root and then spread east. That’s even more
likely given that the presidential front-runners are pushing the federal
government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare.
“This is the crack in the
door” on drug pricing, said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a
California nonprofit devoted to consumer protection issues. “If any Democrat in
America wants bulk purchasing in Medicare, it will start with bulk purchasing
for the most liberal state government in America.”
Which is precisely the
intention of the initiative’s sponsor, Michael Weinstein, CEO of the Los
Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “If we win, we hope it will start a
national prairie fire,” he said.
In : Consumer Watchdog