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Battle Over California Drug Pricing Initiative Could Be One Of The Most Expensive

Battle Over California Drug Pricing Initiative Could Be One Of The Most Expensive
Battle Over California Drug Pricing Initiative Could Be One Of The Most Expensive GUESTS:Michael Weinstein, president, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman for opponents of the measure

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. The November general election is still months away but the battle over one ballot initiative is already shaping up to be one of the most expensive in California history. The California drug price relief act would prevent any state agencies from paying more than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs pays for restriction drops. Pharmaceutical industry has resorted for the million dollars to fight initiative, while everything about $4.3 million. Recently KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg spoke with Michael Weinstein President of the AIDS healthcare foundation the group that supporting the measure, and Kathy Fairbanks spokeswoman for opponents of the initiative.. That interview Michael Weinstein, what you think your initiative is the right solution to the rising cost of prescription drugs? Is a start. Registration and the Congress have done nothing to control prices and be have been laughable introduced, we can't get anywhere because the pharmaceutical industry has poured millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying that this is a simple straightforward approach, the Veterans Administration biggest price, will wide should California anymore? How was efficient work? DeAtley said that California would pay no more than EPA. Will that be for any drug, generics, how would it work in practice? It would be limited to do that the VA buys, but biological cover overbilling majority of drugs in California How many Californians with potentially benefit? 5 1/2 million is our estimate. (Are they currently involved with? They are involved in many,, the AIDS drug assistance program, prison, the pensioners, employees Not everyone on medical would be able to take advantage of this initiative is that correct? Indirectly they want. The health plans that cover medical, they negotiate independently with the drug companies. If the state was getting lower price they would be able to ask the same price and in fact on [Indiscernible] they said that the reason why pharmaceutical industries has already poured $50 million and will probably double that is because it expects what does go into effect this will be, [Indiscernible] Kathy Fairbanks, advocates say the key to be savings will be to allow the state of California to negotiate prices on prescription drugs just like the VA does. Why is anybody in? Is not a bad idea and it happens today, in the state of California to negotiate drug prices with the truck manufacturers. There's a lot of things that I like to respond to that were just said, number one, the first and foremost is that in a drug pricing in and of itself is a very complicated and while it's really easy to criticize the current system we have and say well, this is going to fix it, it's in the details and any initiative for any policy and voters need to look into the details. We have looked into the details and initiative is not going to result in lower prices for the vast majority of California. We think that in fact the state healthcare programs that are covered and as you pointed out not all of them are covered, in fact that the vast majority of patients in state programs will not be covered, the 10 millions and Medicare are not part of this but for those who are, for the Medi-Cal fee-for-service programs for example the state could lose up to about $100 million of existing rebates at the state of California Medi-Cal fee-for-service program gets today that is the state was elected by those drugs but they would lose that $100 million rebate and a more. That could translate down to the patient level, the cost can be passed on to patients, to taxpayers, we also believe that this initiative will result in higher prices for veterans, and one of the big problems with this initiative that we can't see a way that this is enforceable. There is no language in here which that Howard will be implemented. The measure doesn't say the state can pay no more for drugs in the VA, that's not actually what it said. It says that the state can't enter into agreements or contracts with drug manufacturers about the VA price but as you know, contact our negotiations and there's nothing in his initiative that can pull either side of the debate either the state or drug company to enter into these contracts. It is unenforceable from that perspective and when you have an initiative where they are cloudy or they are concluded, it just result in losses and lawsuits by the states, and with that happens, [Indiscernible] used in this initiative is if it became it would increased drug prices for veterans. How could that happen? Over the years that have been proposal at the federal level to extend baby a pricing to other state agencies, local agencies, other federal entity. The US Government accounting office of at, the VA has looked at his proposal, much of the state legislative analysis would evaluate policies, GA overlooked that came to the conclusion that it could result in higher prices for the VA. If the program works, extended beyond its original intent it could result in higher prices paid by the VA which then of course trickle down to the VA patients. Michael Weinstein, even if your initiative were passed, millions of Californians who have private health insurance will not get any benefits from it. Why should be supported? Yes, it was getting benefit because insurance would negotiate the same price but extraordinary being that was said is all about being sick days it would happen car all things that they would [Indiscernible]. If they, the VA discount, that's what they do, if they withdraw the Medicaid rebate, that's something they do. All the consequences are a result of their greed. The public is furious with the industry, you have people across the political spectrum from Democrats Republicans and independents, all furious with this industry. If this initiative does nothing, then why the pharmaceutical industry going to spend $100 million to season Kathy, let me get your response. Michael is voicing what a lot of people are sick and tired of, high prices. What's wrong with this potential solution to this conundrum? As I said earlier, it's about of policy, about the details in the initiative and I haven't really heard much from Mr. Weinstein beyond bashing the drug companies are getting a statement about what the initiative will do, having heard much to describe how the policy itself would work and it's just a flawed policy. It's going to be problematic for patients in California, for veterans and California, for taxpayers, people who are covered by the initiative, people are not covered, is a policy nightmare. Can I say this? Is the job of the state to implement laws, is not the job of people writing initiative to tell you exactly how it's going to implement it. If provisions cannot be implemented how do you propel someone to sign a contract? We heard when we said that we [Indiscernible] no cause would be [Indiscernible], that did not come about and reality is that Californians are in the largest market in the country and let's see if the pharmaceutical industry is so greedy, so selfish and so arrogant that they're going to refuse to negotiate with the state of California and either going to absolutely punish verify raising their prices. I dare that to conclude this conversation, I wanted to ask you, people are fed up with high prices and profits of drug companies. In a few words what are missing in this whole equation? As it relates to the ballot measure was missing so far, and I assume we will get to the discussion of the policy as you move closer to the election really right now with missing is an really careful evaluation of the policy. Voters are no way near that. We will get there eventually us that is really when I think the measure and its lawful really exposed. We will have to leave it there. I've been speaking with Michael Weinstein from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation , the group that is sponsoring the California Drug Price Relief Act. And Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman opponent of the initiative. I'm Kate Goldberg this is California Drug Price Relief Act

The pharmaceutical industry has already poured in more than $49 million to fight a November ballot initiative that aims to control the price of prescription drugs in California.

The measure, called the California Drug Price Relief Act, would prohibit any state agency from paying more than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs pays for prescription drugs.

The pharmaceutical industry calls the initiative flawed, and says it could have adverse consequences for the state.

The sponsor of the measure, the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, argues the public is fed up with sky-high drug prices, and wants the state to do something about it.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for opponents of the initiative, discuss the controversial measure Thursday on Midday Edition.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.