Issue 2: Battle over drug prices in Ohio fails

U.S. Military

Ohio voters have rejected a ballot measure seeking to curb prescription drug prices paid by the state for prisoners, injured workers and poor people.

The campaign fight over Issue 2, dubbed the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, was the most expensive in state history.

The measure would have required the state to pay no more for prescription drugs than the Department of Veterans Affairs' lowest price, which is often deeply discounted.

The pharmaceutical industry spent more than $50 million to oppose the measure, saying it would reduce access to medicines and raise prices for veterans and others.

Supporters, led by the California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, spent close to $20 million in support, saying it would save the state millions and could force the industry to reduce prices elsewhere.

Statement from No on Issue 2 campaign:

“Today, Ohio voters delivered a loud and clear message that Issue 2 was a deceptive and seriously flawed proposal. A large majority of Ohio voters concluded Issue 2 wouldn’t have solved any problems; it would have made things worse.

“Issue 2 was unworkable at its core. Adoption of Issue 2 would have increased bureaucracy and raised costs for Ohio Medicaid and other state agencies that provide prescription drugs to Ohioans. And passage would have led to health care cost increases for the two thirds of Ohioans who are not covered by state programs—including military veterans using VA benefits, those on Medicare and families with private or employer-based insurance.

“At least two dozen Ohio newspapers which closely examined Issue 2 recommended a no vote.

“More than 80 respected non-partisan organizations, including the state’s leading associations of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals and veterans, lined up together to oppose Issue 2.

“These trusted leaders who best understood the potential harms of Issue 2 were active and visible in our campaign, and they helped persuade their fellow Ohioans to cast a no vote on today’s ballot.

“As the saying goes, what sounds too good to be true usually is. Indeed, Issue 2 was wrong for patients and wrong for taxpayers. Issue 2 would not have lowered drug prices or saved the state money, as proponents repeatedly promised, without foundation.

“That’s why Ohio voters rejected the unsubstantiated claims made by Issue 2 sponsors and voted decisively to say No to Issue 2.”

Statement from Yes on Issue 2 campaign:

“We are proud of the campaign we have run and are tremendously humbled by people of Ohio who truly want to do the right thing and hold drug companies accountable. Unfortunately, faced with $70-plus million in spending by huge drug companies and an all out assault on the truth by our opposition, we came up short tonight to lower drug prices for 4 million Ohioans and save taxpayers $400 million.

“Make no mistake, although this particular campaign did not win tonight, it is just the beginning of an awareness in Ohio about what huge drug companies are doing to our people. This system we have for drug pricing in America has got to give, and sooner rather than later, one state will successfully stand up to big drug companies and Ohio will wish it could have been the first.

To all our friends, advocates, and supporters, we could not have done this without you, and look forward to continuing the fight against price-gouging of prescription drugs.”

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