COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a major victory for drug pricing advocates, the Ohio Supreme Court (OSC) issued a ruling earlier today that brings the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, a ballot measure that would lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio, one step closer to being placed before voters on the November 2017 statewide ballot.
Over the past year, backers of the measure collected and submitted signatures of nearly 200,000 Ohio registered voters in support of the measure—far more than the 91,677 needed to qualify. Secretary of State Jon Husted repeatedly moved to invalidate many of the signatures, and PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association) and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association also filed a legal action challenging the signatures.
In response, backers of the measure sued in the OSC to reinstate many of the signatures it believed were illegally thrown out by Secretary Husted. In a four (4) to three (3) ruling in that case earlier today, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted to “… rescind his September 6, 2016 transmission of the initiative to the General Assembly. Husted is instead ordered to accept for verification the supplementary part-petitions proffered to his office on August 31, 2016, and if they are found to contain sufficient valid signatures, to place the matter on the November 2017 general-election ballot.”
“This is a huge victory for the Democratic process in Ohio and we thank the Court for its ruling reinstating voter signatures on many of our petitions in support of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act,” said Tracy Jones, Midwest Regional Director & National Director of Advocacy Campaigns and a proponent of the Drug Price Relief Act. “The Court ordered Secretary Husted to carry out his official duties regarding the ballot measure process in Ohio on our initiative—verifying signatures and then placing this measure on the general-election ballot. We have seen that politicians across the nation are unwilling or unable to stand up to the drug industry and do anything meaningful on reducing drug prices and improving transparency. Ohioans deserve the chance to weigh in on this crucial issue of drug pricing and we are now one step closer to having that chance in November 2017.”
Following is the final paragraph of the Supreme Court’s 16-page decision:
“Although we found in Ohio Mfrs. Assn.,___ Ohio St.3d ___, 2016-Ohio-5377, ___ N.E.3d ___, that the December 2015 petition contained an insufficient number of signatures, that finding was based on the limited evidence that was before the court in that case. As stated above, we order Husted to validate 20,092 additional signatures from Cuyahoga County, 256 additional signatures from Adams County, 14 additional signatures from Darke County, 23 additional signatures from Hocking County, 67 additional signatures from Madison County, 18 additional signatures from Putnam County, 56 additional signatures from Union County, and 314 additional signatures from Delaware County. The evidence submitted in this case therefore establishes that the petition filing exceeded the minimum-signature threshold. Thus, it was unnecessary for the committee to collect additional signatures or for the initiative to be resubmitted to the General Assembly. We therefore order Husted to rescind his September 6, 2016 transmission of the initiative to the General Assembly. Husted is instead ordered to accept for verification the supplementary part-petitions proffered to his office on August 31, 2016, and if they are found to contain sufficient valid signatures, to place the matter on the November 2017 general-election ballot.”
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.
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1 V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.