Battle over Issue 2 heats up - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Battle over Issue 2 heats up

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

The debate is heating up over Issue 2, the statewide ballot initiative designed to lower drug prices in Ohio.

The ads are flooding Ohio TV airwaves and social media; some with promises, others with warnings tied to the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act.

Longtime Ohio politician and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich is sponsoring the bill, which would require state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Medicaid, to only pay the same price for prescription drugs that are paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA has access to discounts of-of up to 24-percent.

"If Issue 2 passes, the state will have tremendous negotiating power to be able to negotiate with the drug companies to drive the price of the pharmaceuticals down and that will save Ohioans at least $400 million," Kucinich said.

But opponents of Issue 2 say Ohio can already negotiate similar discounts and that Issue 2 will only drive up costs for private insurance carriers and possibly pharmacies.

"The problem is that ultimately the government doesn't actually buy medications, pharmacies do," said Antonio Ciaccia, Director of Public Affairs for Ohio Pharmacists Association.

The Ohio Pharmacists Association represents all pharmacists across the state of Ohio. The association joins a long list of groups endorsing the deceptive RX ballot initiative group that's campaigning heavily against Issue 2. 

Ciaccia says reforms are needed in the pharmaceutical industry, but he doesn't believe Issue 2 will achieve what it's promising.

"At best, any of the state programs might get a cheaper price on their prescription drugs, but again, the drug companies aren't necessarily taking the hit. So just like they've continued to do in the marketplace, any time that somebody gets a discount, they compensate for that by raising the list price to basically offset that cut," Ciaccia said.

Issue 2 has yet to obtain an endorsement from a major print media outlet. Editorial boards from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Columbus Dispatch, the Akron Beacon Journal and the Tribune Chronicle have all come out against the measure. 

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