Spendy prescription drug measure stirring up controversy

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Americans think they pay too much for drugs and that is the spark igniting Proposition 61. (KGO-TV)

One of the most controversial ballot measures this year is a drug price initiative named Proposition 61.

There is one thing both sides agree on: Prop 61 is a swipe at the drug companies, but is it a swipe worth taking?

MORE: Voters Edge California Election Guide

Greed has become synonymous with big pharmacy bosses like Heather Bresch and Martin Shkreli. She with her $500 EpiPen two pack, and he raising the price of a $14 pill to $750.

Americans think they pay too much for drugs and that is the spark igniting Proposition 61. "Well our prices are always higher than what other first world nations pay. For instance, in Great Britain they pay on average about half of what we pay for drugs," Professor of Medicine and Health Policy at UCSF R. Adams Dudley said.

An exception to high American drug prices, Dudley said is the Veterans Administration. It is guaranteed the lowest price by law.

So in an effort to get cheaper drugs the writers of Prop 61 tied the prices most California state agencies pay to those paid by the Veterans Administration.

"With this people have an opportunity to really get behind something that is going to be able to be transformational," Yes on Prop 61 advocate Steve Dunwitty said.

Those backing the proposition say after the state saves on drug prices insurance companies will ask, 'why not us, too?' And we will all save.
The "No on Prop 61" campaign backed by drug companies admits big pharma is a big target, but says Prop 61 can't deliver what it promises. "Does it protect consumers, does it protect veterans?" Kath Fairbanks asked. "It's really easy to beat up on the pharmaceutical manufacturers, it is really easy to beat up on them, but what the problem is, is prop 61 going to prevent any of that? No."
No on Prop 61 points out the pharmaceutical companies could raise prices or even stop selling certain drugs to the Veterans Administration.

They said the feds tried a similar move, but it didn't stick. "The VA ended up paying higher costs for drugs. Congress came in, repealed the law and now Prop 61 is trying to do that again with the state of California," Fairbanks asked.

But those for Prop 61 say there needs to be change and that change can start here and now. "You know it may start off as a toe in the water but that'll ripple out and I believe have a ripple effect with so many kinds of things and issues that people really desperately want to see real long lasting change on," Dunwitty said.

Click here for information that supports Proposition 61.

Click here for information that's against Proposition 61.

For full coverage on the presidential election, click here.
Related Topics:
politics2016 electionu.s. & worldvoter infomationvotingballot measureprescription drugs
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