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Issue 2 – Why This is Not a Good Proposition for Ohio

Issue 2  is slated for a vote on the November 2017 ballot.  This issues proposes price controls on prescription drugs either purchased by the State of Ohio or if the State of Ohio provides the funding for the purchase of drugs.  A “yes” vote supports this measure that will require state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.  A “no” vote opposes this measure that requires state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the VA pays for them.

While Ohioans support lower drug pricing, and opposition to this bill is being heavily financed by drug makers, passage of this ballot issue is not likely to achieve that end.  The VA is able to negotiate favorable pricing that is passed along to veterans receiving their care at VA facilities including prescription drugs obtained through VA pharmacies.  VA pharmacies are a closed system open only to veterans.  VA pharmaceutical pricing is not broadly available to two-thirds of  Ohioans who use non-VA pharmacies.  If the ballot issue passes, VA prices paid by state agencies to local, non-VA pharmacies will not likely cover the cost which non-VA pharmacies pay in order to supply medications to the pharmacy.  Subsequently, Ohioans who utilize state agency funding to obtain their medications at non-VA pharmacies, may see fewer pharmacies willing to fill their prescriptions as a result of the financial loss the pharmacies experience.  Passage of this issue may also negatively impact the future ability of the VA to obtain favorable drug pricing in the future.

This ballot issue provides very little detail as to how this program would be implemented in the State of Ohio and is likely to generate substantial litigation ultimately financed by Ohio taxpayers.  Issue 2 would also allow the ballot’s cosponsors to intervene in any post-election legal challenges at taxpayers’ expense and require the petitioners to pay $10,000 to the state if a court rules Issue 2 unenforceable.

Many professional organizations including the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Pharmacists Association, the Ohio Society of Health System Pharmacists, the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Nurses Association and others oppose this bill as unworkable and limiting healthcare in Ohio.  The Council for Ohio Healthcare Advocacy joins in opposition to this bill.

References:

Ballotpedia.  Ohio Issue 2, Drug Price Standards Initiative (2017).  https://ballotpedia.org/Ohio_Issue_2,_Drug_Price_Standards_Initiative_(2017).  Accessed 9/17/17.

No on 2 Deceptive RX Issue.  http://www.deceptiverxissue.org/news.  Accessed 9/17/17.

Yes on Issue 2.  http://yesonissue2.com.   Accessed 9/17/17.

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