Calif. Gov. Should Sign Bill To Allow Purchase of Drugs From Canada for Medi-Cal, ADAP Beneficiaries, Opinion Piece Says
The state of California could save "billions" of dollars if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signs a bill (SB 1333) that would allow the state to use lower-priced antiretroviral drugs from Canadian pharmacies for Medi-Cal and AIDS Drug Assistance Program beneficiaries, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece (Weinstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/24). The California Senate in May approved the measure, which would allow the state's Department of Health Services to reimburse pharmacies for prescription drugs purchased from Canadian pharmacies for Medi-Cal or ADAP beneficiaries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/27). The bill "wisely limits" the medications covered under the law to drugs imported from Canada and "requires Canadian pharmacies that sell to California pharmacies to meet the state's safety requirements for a nonresident pharmacy," Weinstein says. The "budget-busting expense" of prescription drugs "has grown unsustainably ... year after year" and, "[a]s the governor and Legislature search for ways to trim the state's structural deficits, it is clear that prescription drugs available to Medi-Cal and ADAP [beneficiaries] increasingly will be put at risk," Weinstein says. "Instead of trying to balance the budget on the backs of some of California's most vulnerable citizens, shouldn't the governor expect drug companies" -- who are the "frequent beneficiaries of generous taxpayer support for drug research and development" -- to "shoulder some of this growing burden?" Weinstein asks, adding that such a proposal "does not seem to be unreasonable." Weinstein concludes, "It remains to be seen if the governor himself has the mettle to challenge drug industry special interests and address the state crisis head-on by signing these drug-pricing bills into law" (Weinstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.