Supporters of Proposition 61, a bill aimed toward lowering prescription drug costs, rallied this afternoon at La Placita Olvera in downtown Los Angeles to battle Big Pharma's rising prices.
The "On the Road for Lower Drug Prices" campaign, which organized the event, began in Los Angeles today and will continue to travel throughout California to host rallies in support of lowering prescription drug prices. The campaign is aimed at gaining voter support for Prop. 61.
The proposition, also known as the "The Drug Price Relief Act," is a measure that aims to cap the prices of prescription drugs paid for by state agencies. Supporters contend that Prop. 61 will keep drug costs low.
Currently, the Department of Veteran Affairs pays the lowest price for prescription drugs nationwide. Rather than allow pharmaceutical companies to determine drug pricing, the measure would ensure that state agencies received medications at the same cost as the drugs administered to the VA.
Melissa Castaneda, a Pharmacy Specialist at Aids Healthcare Foundation, attended the rally downtown earlier today. "We're here to support our ballot measure Prop. 61 and of course to get drug companies to lower their prices for affordable access," she said.
The steep increase on prescription drugs such as Epipen, Albuterol, and Daraprim have been cause for concern. However, some people do not believe Prop. 61 is the answer for ensuring reasonable pricing for prescription medications.
Lead Strategist for the Yes on 61 campaign Garry South said,"The drug companies are not inhibited in terms of raising their prices as high as they want, for any reason they want, whenever they want. This is a way for the voters to fight back."
While the act would allow state agencies to negotiate prices of prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies, like the Department of Veteran Affairs currently does, some believe it would cause a hike in drug prices and would limit availability of certain drugs.
"[Proposition 61] won't work in California," Spokeswoman of No on Prop. 61 Kathy Fairbanks said, "Independent experts have evaluated proposition 61 and have come to the conclusion that it could raise drug pricing in California. It could lead to a decrease in access to medicines."
The measure is supported by Bernie Sanders, The California Nurses' Association and Consumer Watchdog.
Those opposed to the proposition include Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and Johnson & Johnson.
California residents can expect to see Prop. 61 on the Nov. 8 ballot.