While Californians should fight for lower drug prices, Proposition 61 is not the right approach.
Proposition 61 aims to lower drug prices for Californians by requiring the state government pay the same prices the United States Department of Veterans Affairs pays for prescription drugs. However, it will inadvertently end up hurting Californians in the long run by regulating state agencies and instead of pharmaceutical companies in an attempt to lower drug prices.
There are three situations the measure could result in if passed: First, pharmaceutical companies could agree to providing the state drugs at the price of USDVA drugs only to then raise prices for drugs not covered by the USDVA but still purchased by the state, in order to make up for the decrease in revenue.
The second situation is pharmaceutical companies do not agree to provide drugs to the state at the USDVA price, thereby preventing – as per the measure – the state government from purchasing those medications altogether. The third situation is that pharmaceutical companies agree to provide drugs to the state at the USDVA price, but proceed to increase the price of drugs provided to the USDVA.
As is clear from the possible situations, the measure falls on its sword by failing to regulate the actors who are really responsible for high drug prices: pharmaceutical companies. As the proposition only serves to tie the state government’s hands behind its back – and therefore hurt Californians medically – this board does not endorse Proposition 61.
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