PHARMA: Senator Grassley, I presume? by Mr JiB

IN CALIFORNIA things are starting to heat up in advance of the November special election. Proposition 78, the drug-industry backed ballot measure targeting high prescription drug costs, picked up a key endorsement this week. On Monday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave his blessing to the proposal.  The politically powerful American Association of Retired People (AARP) formally announced its support on Wednesday, said it is siding with Proposition 79.  

Proposition 79, the alternative backed by Health Access California, key consumer groups and major unions, is seen as taking a tougher line on costs. It is also intensely disliked by drug companies, who see it as likely to encourage similar attempts to pass tougher laws in other states.  Recent tracking polls show support among Californians for the two measures about even. That is a bit of a surprise for those who were predicting the campaign would essentially be a formality, given the lobbying power and resources of the pharmaceutical industry.

HealthVote.org has been tracking ad spending, as it did during last year’s election. Huge amounts of money have been spent already. But the real action is likely to come over the last six weeks of the campaign.  According to the group’s release today:

Prop. 78 supporters aired 11,485 ads in California’s five largest media markets (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno) through September 25 at an estimated cost of $13.4 million. Proponents of Prop. 79 launched their ad campaign on September 29.

When the Prop. 79 spot is posted, I’ll link to it, so you can take a look. But for now, you can go take a look at the spots the campaign for Prop.78  is running here.UPDATE: Lisa Girion has a piece on the topic in today’s LAT. The paper’s take:

Californians like the idea of a statewide drug-discount program for the poor: A recent Field Poll found Proposition 78 leading by a healthy margin. But that support sagged when respondents learned that the nation’s big drug makers were behind the initiative.  And therein lies the problem for supporters of the measure: Its biggest backer is also its biggest liability. 

Mr JiB

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