Campaigns Targeting Drug Price Inflation Receive Significant Funding

Campaigns for Proposition 61 have gained major funding from critics and supporters of the law.

A pair of campaigns that address legislation to halt drug price inflation recently raised several millions of dollars to either promote or stop the passage of California’s Proposition 61.

The proposition would tie the price state agencies pay for drugs to the price that the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays. On average, the VA pays less for drugs than other state agencies, due to special discounts and negotiations.

Proposition 61 would apply to any program where the state is the ultimate payer for the drug, even if it does not purchase the drug directly, according to a news release from California’s Secretary of State. It would apply to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, among others.

No on Prop 61

Launched in April, the campaign No on Prop 61 gained funding from major pharmaceutical manufacturers, such as Merck and Pfizer. As of August, the campaign reported $69,566,646 in contributions, according to the Secretary of State.

The campaign’s focus is to call attention to the proposal that they call the “Deceptive Rx Proposition.” It includes patient advocates, physicians, clinics, veterans, businesses, labor unions and other organizations, according to their website.

They refer to the Proposition as a “deceptive” and “deeply-flawed scheme,” that would ultimately harm patients and veterans, while increasing taxes. The campaign states that while the law would not apply to 88% of people, it would negatively impact all Californians due to increased drug costs.

The campaign states that if the legislation passes, the VA would lose special discounts for veterans, and would result in higher drug costs. Critics of the bill also state that Proposition 61 could also invalidate current drug discount agreements, and could lead to reduced patient access if patients were required to go through a prior approval process, according to the website.

Yes on 61

The supportive campaign, Yes on 61, encourages Californians to vote in favor of the proposition, stating that it would be beneficial and lead to lower drug costs. While it has not gained as much funding as the oppositional campaign, Yes on 61 has reported $9,462,638 in contributions as of August.

Major contributors to the campaign include the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and California Nurses Association PAC. The campaign states that the VA pays approximately 20% to 24% less for prescription drugs and 40% less than Medicare.

This proposition would be a way to make sure that all government agencies are paying for drugs equally. Many federal, state, and local officials have joined the campaign in support of the bill, including US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

This campaign argues that the proposition would “utilize California’s bulk-purchasing power to secure lower drug prices,” according to their website. Advocates for the bill believe that this could undercut the motives of profit-driven drug manufacturers for increasing drug prices.