AHF: Cleveland.com Drug Pricing Editorial Exposes Husted Pharma Bias

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Cleveland.com, the influential online news website covering and serving Northeast Ohio, published an editorial earlier today urging speedy legal action on an election dispute over an Ohio drug pricing ballot measure seeking to qualify for the November 2016 presidential election ballot. The editorial, titled, “Courts must move speedily on Ohio drug-price ballot tussle,” declared, ““… the courts should act quickly in a dispute over petitions for a voter-proposed Ohio law aimed at reducing what the state pays for prescription drugs to assure that political machinations aren’t wrongly being used to keep the measure off the Ohio ballot.”

““… the courts should act quickly in a dispute over petitions for a voter-proposed Ohio law aimed at reducing what the state pays for prescription drugs to assure that political machinations aren’t wrongly being used to keep the measure off the Ohio ballot.”
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Backers of the proposed law, The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act , a citizen-driven ballot initiative that will revise Ohio law to require state programs pay the same or less for prescription medications as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs1, filed federal and state lawsuits earlier this month after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted failed to fulfill his statutory obligation and transmit the proposed law to the General Assembly for its consideration. Local election boards in Ohio’s 88 counties certified the voter ballot petition signatures in late December, but Bricker and Eckler LLC, a Columbus law firm hired by PhRMA— and which has contributed over $44,000 to Husted’s various political campaigns over the past decade or so—filed a complaint over the signature gathering with Husted’s office, a move that appears to have at least temporarily short circuited the ballot initiative and legislative process.

Members of Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices filed the federal lawsuit in United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division [Case: 2:16-cv-00038-JLG-NMK Doc. #:1] and motion for a temporary restraining order [Case: 2:16-cv-00038-JLG-NMK Doc. #:2] .The federal lawsuit was filed by McTigue, McGinnis & Colombo LLC on behalf of the four individual proponents of the drug pricing initiative as well as AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a backer of the initiative that has a major presence in Ohio offering HIV prevention, testing and HIV/AIDS treatment services in the state.

The Cleveland.com editorial concluded: “ … here’s the problem: If Husted’s action and the subsequent litigation mean legislators get 40 days to act from when the courts rule, not 40 days from Jan. 4, that would cut into the time petitioners have to reach November’s ballot.

At a minimum, if the rechecked petitions have sufficient signatures, it would be grossly unfair to reduce the time Drug Price petitioners get to reach the ballot. After all, the initiative option is supposed to empower Ohio voters – not frustrate them.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 575,000 individuals in 35 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.

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