FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: ORG General Number – (614) 300-0529
Date: October 23, 2017
SUBJECT: OHIO RIGHTS GROUP ANNOUNCES ITS SUPPORT OF ISSUE 2
The ORG urges Ohioans to vote Yes in November to lower drug costs
(Columbus, OH): The Ohio Rights Group (ORG), well known for its involvement in patient-focused issues, announces its support of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, aka
Issue 2, slated to appear on the ballot in November. The ORG board of directors voted unanimously to urge Ohioans to vote YES to help lower prescription drug costs in Ohio.
Issue 2 is an initiated statute (not an amendment to the Ohio Constitution) that would add a law to the Ohio Revised code requiring state agencies to pay the same or lower net prices for prescription drugs as the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. A major purchaser of pharmaceuticals, the VA contracts with drug makers for discounts to the tune of 20-24%. The agency’s negotiating power reflects in the estimated 40% less that it pays for drugs than Medicare.
Drug costs in the United States are rising at an annual rate of +12% in 2017. By contrast, wage increases this year are pegged at just +2.5%. Some new drugs carry six figure price tags such as Spinraza by Biogen at $750,000/year or Keytruda by Merck at $150,000/yr. Ohio patients are increasingly unable to afford medications crucial to their health.
Issue 2 would:
Reduce drug costs for Ohio’s four million Medicaid recipients, Medicaid retirees, state retirees and state employees.
Save the State of Ohio $350 million to as much as $536 million per year.
Reallocate the tax dollars no longer spent on state-purchased prescriptions to local entities such as police departments, fire departments and schools.
Not increase drug prices for those who have private insurance. Note, however, that the drug industry has threatened to raise its already steep prices to offset lost profits if Issue 2 passes.
Not require the State to pay petitioner’s legal bills, even though this is a provision of the initiative. In the event of legal challenges to the passed measure, the Ohio Attorney General’s office will defend the new law.
“Big pharma” – major drug manufacturers whose annual U.S. sales collectively exceed $350 billion – is 100% responsible for the funding to oppose Issue 2. Through its trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, (PhRMA), $15.8 million has flowed into to the Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue PAC according to financial reports available from the Ohio Secretary of State. Comparatively, the Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices PAC received just $3.7 million for the same time frame. Big pharma spent $109 million to defeat a similar campaign in California. In its aggressive opposition to Issue 2 and similar measures, the industry's real goal is to keep the VA's drug price negotiating power from spreading to Medicare and similarly reducing the drug costs of senior citizens.
Endorsements of Issue 2 come from U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich, former U.S. Senator Max Cleland, Ohio Senator Nina Turner, Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Ohio Green Party, VoteVets.org, the American Civil Liberties Union, Cleveland Branch of the NAACP and the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians.
The Ohio Rights Group is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of Ohioans to make medical, therapeutic and industrial use of the Cannabis plant and supports the growing number of individuals, organizations and industries facilitating those uses.