COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Yes on Issue 2 campaign today challenged the drug industry to pick one of its CEOs to debate Michael Weinstein at a forum moderated by Ohio journalists. Weinstein is president of the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest HIV/AIDS medical-care provider and the key financial sponsor of Issue 2.
“Let’s decide on a time and place for a debate and Mr. Weinstein will be there,” said Rick Taylor, chief consultant for Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, the coalition of doctors, nurses, veterans and civic leaders supporting the Issue 2 campaign to put the brakes on runaway drug prices in Ohio.
“So far the drug companies have refused to come out in the open to comment on why they are spending tens of millions of dollars to oppose Issue 2,” said Taylor. “Ohioans have been bombarded by the drug industry’s TV ads and heard from the industry’s high-priced PR team. But they have not heard from the very executives who make the drug pricing decisions that significantly affect the lives and pocketbooks of millions of Ohio taxpayers and consumers. That’s not right.”
“Mr. Weinstein has had several on-the-record interviews with Ohio reporters. He has made himself accessible. The drug company CEOs need to be just as open, just as transparent,” said Taylor.
Taylor sent a letter today challenging the drug companies to debate Weinstein. The one condition is that the debate must include a CEO from one of the drug companies that belongs to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhRMA], said Taylor. PhRMA is the drug industry trade group leading the fight against Issue 2.
“If the drug industry refuses to debate Mr. Weinstein that would not be a surprise,” said Taylor. “This is the same industry that cooked up the devious - and we believe illegal - scheme to keep Ohio voters in the dark about which drug companies are contributing money to the anti-Issue 2 campaign and how much money they are giving. The drug company executives so far have refused to come out of hiding and face Ohio voters. Now is their chance to put up or shut up.”
Issue 2 is on the November ballot in Ohio. If approved by voters, it would reduce the drug costs of state-run healthcare programs that provide prescription drugs at taxpayer expense to about 4 million Ohio residents, including Medicaid recipients, current and retired state and local employees and retired teachers.
It has been estimated that Issue 2 would save Ohio taxpayers $400 million a year. Issue 2 would require two dozen Ohio financed health programs to adopt the discount drug pricing system that has been successfully used for the past 25 years by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when it buys drugs for 9 million veterans enrolled in the VA’s health program.
“If measure 2 is passed, hundreds of millions of Ohio tax dollars that now pay for inflated drug prices could be saved and better used to meet the needs of Ohioans,” said Taylor. “Do our opponents believe the current system of pricing drugs is fair? Do they have an alternative solution? If – as the drug companies say - Issue 2 is too restrictive, why are they still selling drugs to the VA when all Issue 2 requires is that Ohio get the same drug price discounts the VA now gets? And why are they threatening to retaliate against Vets and Ohio consumers if Issue 2 is approved? These are questions the drug companies need to answer in a debate.”
Background on Ohio Ballot Issue 2
The Yes on Issue 2 campaign is a broad-based, bi-partisan coalition. More than 200,000 Ohio voters signed petitions to put an amendment on the ballot in November that will lower drug prices for over 4 million Ohioans, including 164,000 children, save taxpayers $400 million annually, reduce healthcare costs for everyone and teach greedy drug companies and their CEOs a lesson.
Paid for by Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices