CA Prop. 61: Despite record $126M, pharma offers no fix to public on drug pricing; just lies, confusion, fear mongering.
As the final days to next Tuesday’s election in California play out, backers of Proposition 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act, who have faced fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical industry working to defeat the measure, continue their epic David and Goliath battle to break the logjam on meaningful drug pricing reform in the United States via passage of Prop. 61. As of Tuesday of this week (Nov. 1, 2016) Politico reported, “Pharma campaign against CA ballot measure tops $126M,” setting a state ballot measure record with a total (to date—there are still five days remaining to the election) given to one side of a campaign in California history, the latest data posted online show.
Despite the tsunami of opposition cash contributed by all the major drug companies to try and derail the measure, backers of ‘Yes on 61’ observed this week that for all their millions of dollars and high-priced campaign consultants, not ONE single advertisement, mailer or voter guide slate produced by Pharma to sway voters to their side offers a hint or even the slightest suggestion from the drug industry offering any possible compromise or alternative solution to address the drug pricing epidemic facing Americans today.
Instead, multimillionaire drug company CEOs (all of whom are too cowardly to talk directly with reporters and the news media about Prop. 61) have spent millions of dollars—money largely gouged off the backs of hardworking U.S. taxpayers—to spread lies, confusion and fear mongering about what Proposition 61 will do.
However, the public, and, increasingly, politicians, are on to Pharma’s racket. Public fury with the industry over the EpiPen pricing scandal and with Gilead’s $1,000 a day hepatitis C medication coupled with the reprehensible antics of ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli’s surrounding his 5,000% price hike on an HIV/AIDS drug have pushed consumers and the public to the brink.
Meanwhile, ‘Yes on 61’ backers have been mounting a methodical, innovative—and relatively shoestring—‘Yes on 61’ campaign, with key backers including Bernie Sanders, AARP, the California Nurses Association (CNA), Consumer Watchdog and Vote Vets, among others. ‘Yes on 61’ heads into the final stretch with 380 billboards throughout California, days of newspaper sticky note ads statewide, two million Bernie Sanders’ postcards hitting later this week, a very active on-line presence, TV ads, the film, ‘Your Money or Your Life,’ an enormously compelling documentary on drug industry greed, two ‘Yes on 61’ buses on the road—and appearances by Bernie Sanders in Northern and Southern California next Monday (11/7 Pershing Square, Downtown L.A. 10:00am)—the day before the election—and, capturing the depth of consumer anger against the drug industry, a witty, biting GIF titled, “I’m Mad as Hell, and Not Going to Take It Any More!” (with apologies to actor Peter Finch).
Prop. 61 is the only opportunity voters in California will have this year to address the high cost of prescription drugs, and it is the only drug-pricing measure on the ballot in the United States. Proposition 61 would require the state of California to negotiate with drug companies for drug prices that are no more than is paid for the same drugs by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Prop. 61 empowers the state, as the healthcare buyer for millions of Californians, to negotiate the same or an even better deal for taxpayers, saving the state billions.