|[March 01, 2013]
'Stop Runaway Drug Pricing' Measure Qualifies for San Francisco Ballot, says the Committee on Fair Drug Pricing (a.k.a. FAIR)
SAN FRANCISCO --(Business Wire)--
A first-in-the-nation drug pricing measure that would force
pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of prescription medication
has qualified for the November ballot in San Francisco. The "Stop
Runaway Drug Pricing" (aka Prescription Drug Purchasing) initiative will
boost patient access to life-saving medications while taking a bite out
of the $23 million San Francisco spends every year on providing those
drugs. The measure is being sponsored the Committee on Fair Drug Pricing
(AKA 'FAIR'), a coalition of local and national healthcare groups with
major funding from AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
"We are thrilled to have formal
notice that our Prescription Drug Purchasing initiative has
qualified for the ballot," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS
Healthcare Foundation (AHF). "As government programs pay for the
vast majority of drug purchases in this country, we believe a state as
vast and powerful as California-and a City and County like San
Francisco-can and should use its clout to stand up to and rein in
runaway pricing of drug companies. That is why we are now taking this
issue directly to the people of San Francisco in November through this
ballot measure." 17,800 signatures were collected from San Francisco
residents to qualify the measure.
The announcement was praised by San Francisco Board of Supervisors
Chiu, who said it represents a vitally important opportunity for
the City to take a firm stand against skyrocketing health care costs.
"Prescription drug costs place an enormous - and growing - financial
burden not only on our residents and employers, but also on local
governments who pay for the safety net thatprotects the most vulnerable
within our community," said Chiu. "I look forward to working with
our city's diverse communities who need relief from these costs and
supporting the Prescription Drug Purchasing Initiative."
"I, too, am pleased to learn that our ballot measure has qualified to be
placed before San Francisco voters," said Dr. Lisha Wilson, Medical
Director, San Francisco Healthcare Centers, AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
"High-priced medications for the most serious health conditions are
becoming more and more common, and more costly than most of my
patients-and, in fact, most patients in the US-earn in any given year.
Runaway drug pricing limits access to lifesaving medications by gouging
hard hit government aid programs as well as private insurers, and is one
of the reasons why I am a proponent of this ballot measure."
THE SAN FRANCISCO 'STOP RUNAWAY DRUG PRICING'
Rising drug prices are one the biggest drivers of the increasing cost of
health care in the United States. Spending in the US for prescription
drugs was $234.1 billion in 2008, nearly six times the $40.3 billion
spent in 1990. This increase outpaced spending growth for both hospital
and physician/clinical services combined. In 2012, prescription drug
prices rose 3.6 percent, twice the rate of healthcare inflation (1.7
percent). These higher costs are paid by taxpayer-funded sources, such
as Medicaid, Medicare, and local health departments, which finance
roughly half of all prescription drug spending in the U.S. each year.
So-called "specialty medications" (drug used to treat HIV/AIDS, cancer,
and diabetes, etc.) are at the epicenter of this disturbing trend. For
example, in 2012, total spending on specialty medications increased by
over 23 percent in 2012. In addition, since 2000, the average price of
new HIV/AIDS medicines has increased nearly 70 percent.
Following is the TITLE & SUMMARY prepared by the City Attorney of San
Francisco for the measure that was published with the NOTICE
OF INTENT TO CIRCULATE PETITION, which ran in the San
Francisco Chronicle, Monday, November 12, 2012:
Prescription Drug Purchasing
San Francisco purchases prescription drugs for medical programs run by
the City. San Francisco runs inpatient treatment programs at San
Francisco General Hospital, Laguna Honda (News - Alert) Hospital, and the San Francisco
jail. It also runs outpatient treatment programs at the City's hospitals
and clinics. For example, San Francisco provides prescription drugs to
many participants in the Healthy San Francisco program, which offers
health care to uninsured San Francisco residents who meet income
San Francisco spends over $23 million per year on prescription drugs.
This includes approximately $3.5 million dollars annually on
antiretroviral medications to treat inpatients with HIV and related
City law authorizes San Francisco's Public Health Department to use
outside companies to negotiate prices and purchase prescription drugs.
For inpatient medications, including medications for inmates, the City
uses an outside company that negotiates drug prices with drug
manufacturers. For outpatient medications, the City participates in a
federal program that offers a significant discount on prescription
drugs. To ensure that it remains eligible for this program, the City
uses a federally selected company to negotiate prices and purchase
outpatient prescription drugs.
The proposed measure would make it City policy to employ all available
opportunities to reduce the price of prescription drugs. It would
establish as City policy that San Francisco directly negotiate with drug
manufacturers and seek to pay less for essential medications that the
City purchases. It would also establish as City policy that San
Francisco ask its representatives in state and federal government to
sponsor legislation to reduce by one third current drug prices paid by
all levels of government.
If the proposed measure were adopted, the Board of Supervisors would be
required to study the policy and determine what action, if any, would be
appropriate to implement the policy. [Department of Elections file no.
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