Meigs re-certifies Drug Price Relief Act petitions

By Lorna Hart -

POMEROY —During a special meeting of the Meigs County Board of Elections on Thursday, the board re-reviewed petitions for the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act as mandated by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Petitions for the measure with signatures from Meigs County residents had been certified and sent to state officials in December. The board was asked to re-review the documents; after the re-review, they upheld their original validation of the signatures, which were again certified and returned to the state.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, supporters of legislation intended to lower pharmaceutical drug prices for Ohioans filed 171,205 signatures of Ohio voters (91,677 valid signatures were needed) before the General Assembly in December. They are asking for the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to be placed on the November 2016 ballot.

The act would require state health programs pay the same or less for prescription medications than the prices negotiated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act would prohibit the state from buying, either directly or indirectly, prescription drugs “unless the net cost is the same or less than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”

According to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the VA generally receives discounts of 20 percent to 24 percent for prescription drugs.

Groups behind the citizen-initiated statue include Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices and the AIDS Health Care Foundation. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America opposes the initiative.

The move that required the board to re-certify the petitions was the result of a letter sent to the secretary of state’s office by a law firm representing the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in December. The group alleged that there were several issues with the petitions Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices had submitted.

Although county boards of elections across Ohio had certified the petitions, Secretary of State Jon Husted sent the petitions back for a second review rather than sending the measure to the Ohio General Assembly.

Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices filed a lawsuit against Husted on Jan. 6. The group claimed he was actively trying to keep the measure from reaching the November ballot.

The secretary of state’s office said the second review is to ensure the integrity of the initiative process and county boards across Ohio are proceeding with the review.

Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.

By Lorna Hart