Ohio Drug Price Ballot Measure: Advocates Submit 19,000 Voter Signatures, Far More than 5,044 Needed

On August 15th, the Supreme Court of Ohio
issued a ruling in a case brought by Pharma seeking to invalidate voter
signatures on a ballot measure intended to lower drug prices for state
programs in Ohio.

That ruling denied most of PhRMA’s claims and objections on the
signatures. And although some previous signatures were thrown out, one
part of the court ruling directed backers of the Ohio Drug Price Relief
Act to collect an additional 5,044 voter signatures by today—August 25
th.

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
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America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
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1 V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower
than for almost any other government program.

Contacts

OHIO:
McTIGUE & COLOMBO LLC
Don McTigue, Attorney
at Law
614-263-7000
or
CALIFORNIA:
AHF
Ged
Kenslea,
Senior Director, Communications
+1-323-308-1833 work
+1-323-791-5526
mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org