What Is Proposition 61?

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Posted on

The increased cost of prescription drugs has been all over the news—and a topic for debate in the 2016 elections.

Huge price hikes for medications like EpiPen, Thiola, and Daraprim, just to name a few, have left Americans frustrated and angry. Amid the controversy, some states (including California and Ohio) are trying to address drug pricing on the ballot this fall—a bold move that other states will likely follow.

What would the Drug Price Relief Act do?

The Drug Price Relief Act (Proposition 61 in California) would cap the price any state agency or health care program could spend on prescription drugs. The cap would be set at the price paid by the US Department of Veteran Affairs—which usually receives the biggest discount.

That would mean that the cost of medications would mimic the low prices of the VA system, pricing drugs 20-24% lower than any other current government program.

What drugs are covered in the VA system?

The VA drug formulary (the drugs covered by the program) is extremely limited, which helps to reduce costs. Fewer drugs are covered, but prices are significantly better for those drugs.

What is the opposition saying?

Those who oppose the drug relief act think that this proposition could drive drug prices even higher. The fear is that drug companies will raise prices overall in order to continue profiting (or simply not sell their drugs to the VA), which could have a wider negative impact.

What are supporters saying?

Those in favor of the drug relief act believe that California’s proposition will fight the price-gouging we are seeing from pharmaceutical companies and provide better access to life-saving medications.

Who is in support of the drug price relief act?

Some of the biggest supporters of the drug price relief act include Bernie Sanders and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation but there are many others.

Will Ohio have it on the ballot this November?

No. Ohio will not be voting on a drug relief act this year. If all goes well, it might appear on next year’s ballot.

Will California have it on the ballot this November?

Yes. California will be voting on Proposition 61, the Drug Price Standards Initiative, as an initiated state statute. This means that if Proposition 61 passes it will become a new law.

Drugs featured in this story

Filed under