Public anger at perceived price-gouging by drugmakers has fueled calls for lawmakers to take action. State legislators in California tried, pushing two bills aimed at shedding more light on prescription drug pricing. Both of those efforts died before the end of the session.
In California and many other states, however, legislators aren't the only ones with the power to make law.
The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation circulated petitions to get an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot that would cap what state agencies pay for drugs at the price negotiated by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department. And polls suggest the proposal, Proposition 61, has a strong chance of winning.
Opponents are spending more than $100 million to defeat it, with most of that money coming from the pharmaceutical industry.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation backed a similar Ohio initiative, but the drug industry's largest trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, won a legal challenge to keep it off the ballot.