COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to ongoing legal wrangling over a proposed Ohio ballot measure that would lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio, attorneys for the backers of the measure, known as the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, today filed over 19,000 additional voter signatures in support of the measure, which backers intend to get placed on the November 2017 statewide ballot.
On August 15th, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a ruling in a case brought by PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association), the lobbying association of large drug manufacturers, seeking to invalidate thousands of voter signatures on the ballot measure. That ruling denied most of PhRMA’s claims and objections on the signatures. And although some previous voter signatures were thrown out, one part of the court ruling directed backers of the ballot measure to collect an additional 5,000 voter signatures by August 25th to make up for a signature deficiency prompted by the pharmaceutical industry’s legal wrangling. Earlier today, backers submitted over 19,000 additional vote signatures—far more than the 5,044 signatures required by the court.
The Supreme Court of Ohio had previously dismissed (without prejudice) a lawsuit by backers and members of the drug pricing ballot measure citizens’ committee that was seeking restoration of the voter signatures. The court wrote at the time that the backers’ lawsuit was “premature,” pending the resolution of a separate, but related lawsuit brought in the SCO by PhRMA in conjunction with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association seeking to invalidate voter signatures on the ballot measure.
That August 15th ruling that resolved and denied the majority of PhRMA’s claims and objections to the signatures also meant that the backers’ lawsuit that had been previously dismissed was no longer “premature.” As a result, members of the citizens’ committee sponsoring the ballot measure filed a new legal action (Case No. 2016-1235) on August 17th with the Supreme Court of Ohio against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted seeking restoration of other voter signatures. Backers allege the signatures were unlawfully invalidated by Secretary Husted earlier this year. The legal action was filed as a Complaint in Original Action in Mandamus with the Supreme Court of Ohio.
The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act will amend Ohio law to require state programs to pay the same or less for prescription medications as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs1. Backers intended to have the initiative appear on Ohio’s November 2016 presidential election ballot, but obstructionist—and backers believe, illegal—moves by Secretary of State Husted have forced the ballot measure proponents to aim for the November 2017 Ohio ballot instead.
“Secretary of State Jon Husted rode roughshod over local County Board of Elections that twice certified voter signatures for the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act when he eliminated those signatures, an act that thwarted attempts to get this measure before voters and on the ballot in Ohio,” said Tracy Jones, Midwest Regional Director & National Director of Advocacy Campaigns.
“The Supreme Court’s August 15th ruling in the PhRMA case forced us to have to gather an additional 5,000 signatures in just ten days in order to keep our ballot measure viable and compel Secretary Husted to transmit the language of our proposed drug pricing law to the Ohio legislature, as legally required under the Ohio Constitution,” said Tracy Jones, one of the proponents of the ballot measure as well as the Midwest Regional Director & National Director of Advocacy Campaigns for AHF, the primary funder of the ballot measure. “I am proud to say that we more than honored this deadline and have just delivered over 19,000 additional signatures to Ohio election officials, far more than the 5,044 needed. We also still have a legal case pending before the court seeking to restore more than 20,000 other voter signatures that we believe Secretary Husted illegally invalidated. Either group of signatures will be more than enough to move the ballot measure forward and force Secretary Husted to advance this measure for consideration and possible action by the Ohio legislature as the next procedural step in ultimately bringing the critical issue of drug pricing before Ohio voters in November 2017.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 614,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare
1 V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.