October 7, 2015; Sacramento Bee
NPQ recently promised to track how nonprofits were involved in the pricing of pharmaceuticals, so here is another twist. Three pharmaceutical companies have “donated” more than $10 million to a nonprofit trade association to defeat the Drug Price Relief Act, a ballot measure in California that would impose price controls on drug purchases funded by the state.
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The proposal would require that the state not pay more for drug purchases than the prices paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure would exert controls on a billion-dollar market that includes prison healthcare, Medi-Cal, and CalPERS managed care plans.
The three companies who made such a generous gift last week, even before the net impact of the initiative was fully estimated, to the 501(c)(6) business league known as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, are:
- Johnson & Johnson, which has donated $5.8 million;
- Bristol-Myers Squibb, which has donated $2.9 million; and
- Purdue Pharma, which has donated $1.1 million.
There is less money on the side supporting the proposal, spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has raised only $1.25 million to support their work. These supporters must collect a total of 365,880 signatures in the next three weeks to have the initiative qualify for the November 2016 ballot.—Ruth McCambridge