Calif. Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Allowed Purchase of Drugs From Canada for Medi-Cal, ADAP Beneficiaries
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday vetoed a bill (SB 1333) that would have allowed the state to use lower-priced antiretroviral drugs from Canadian pharmacies for Medi-Cal and AIDS Drug Assistance Program beneficiaries, the San Jose Mercury News reports (LaMar/Folmar, San Jose Mercury News, 10/1). The California Senate in May approved the measure, which would have allowed the state's Department of Health Services to reimburse pharmacies for prescription drugs purchased from Canadian pharmacies (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/27). Schwarzenegger said that the measure would have violated federal law and "exposed the state to civil, criminal and tort liability," adding, "We all would like to see low-income, uninsured residents have access to more affordable medicines, but measures such as this oversimplify the complex safety, trade, supply and pricing issues involved in this marketplace" (Lawrence, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/1).
Michael Weinstein -- president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the bill -- said, "The governor today missed the opportunity to demonstrate that he places the well-being of Californians before big business and the profits of drug companies," adding, "AHF is disappointed and saddened by his action on SB 1333. We hope the governor has not fallen for the same drug company promises that have impeded the Medicare prescription drug card program from achieving true discounts" (AHF release, 9/30). Pharmacists, drug makers and many state Republicans "cheered" Schwarzenegger's veto, saying that the measure would have violated a federal drug importation ban and reduced profits for pharmaceutical companies, limiting the amount of drug research they conduct, the Mercury News reports (San Jose Mercury News, 10/1).