California voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have set California state prescription drug prices capped at the price the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.
With 93% of California voters reporting Tuesday morning, Prop 61 has been rejected. Roughly 46% of Californians voted in favour of the measure, while 54% voted against it.
Pharmaceutical stocks were up in pre-market trading Tuesday.
The proposition was meant to help California’s state government get lower prescription drug prices. The VA, unlike other government agencies, can negotiate drug prices, and gets the lowest prices on prescription drugs of any government agency. The VA gets a discount of about 24% off traditional drug prices, and the agency can negotiate further discounts on top of that.
California’s state government spends a lot on pharmaceuticals. Backers of Prop 61 said it would have saved the state millions, even billions, on prescription drug spending.
More than $125 million was raised for lobbying efforts for Prop 61, with the majority of that coming from drug companies that oppose it.
Going into the week before the election, the race had tightened, with support for the measure waning and opposition from drug companies growing. A poll released Friday showed the race as neck and neck, with 47% voting yes, 47% voting no, and another 6% undecided or abstaining.
Those in favour of the proposition pulled out all the stops leading up to Tuesday, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — a frequent critic of the drug industry — speaking at rallies across the state Monday.
U.S, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expresses his support for Proposition 61 downtown Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. The ballot initiative drawing the most spending on the November ballot would not affect the average Californian, but drug companies have a major stake and are spending heavily to defeat it. Proposition 61 would prohibit state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs does in an effort to curb rising costs for taxpayers.
Who would have benefitted
- Prop 61 was designed to set drug prices at the lowest possible price. One problem with it, however, was that the proposition didn’t lay down the concrete tools for how to make it happen.
- Currently, about 26% of California’s 38.8 million residents have their health insurance covered by state programs — and for some of them, Prop 61 would be great news. But others would have been left out.
- Anyone on Medi-Cal’s managed care plan (roughly 75% of the people on Medi-Cal), would see no direct benefit. That’s because those plans go through commercial health insurers, which are in charge of negotiating their own drug discounts.
NOW WATCH: Government agencies think they have figured out what the ‘strange thing swimming’ in Alaska actually is
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.