Mar. 29, 2005 – A California ballot initiative designed to force drug companies to provide discount medicine to the stateâ€™s low-income population faces opposition from Governor Arnold Schawarzenegger and an $8.6 million dollar public relations counter-measure driven by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
The governor and industrial leaders are pushing a voluntary plan slated to provide 40 percent off retail prices to about 5 million people.
But the ballot initiative, brought by nonprofit group Health Access California, which has yet to collect enough signatures to secure a spot on next yearâ€™s ballot, would provide deeper discounts to 6 to 10 million people. It would also penalize drug companies that do not comply with the plan by shutting them out of the Medi-Cal program for the stateâ€™s poorest residents, currently a $3 billion market bloc for pharmaceuticals.