Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Casa del Mexicano in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bernie Sanders speaks earlier this year in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Southern California is again ready to “Feel the Bern” as former renegade Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is urging voters to pass Proposition 61 on the state ballot, calling it the “most significant proposition in the country to end drug industry greed.”

“They understand if we win here in California other states in the country will be following California’s example, very, very quickly,” Sanders, I-Vermont, told a crowd estimated by organizers of 700 in the parking lot Friday of the headquarters of Local 47 of the American Federation of Musicians in Hollywood.

“The entire nation is looking at California.”

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the campaign against Proposition 61 after the close of usual business hours.

Proposition 61 would require the state to negotiate with drug companies for drug prices that are no more than is paid for the same drugs by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The department pays on average 20 to 24 percent less for medications than other government agencies, according to backers of the measure.

Opponents of the measure claim it would likely increase state prescription drug costs, bureaucracy and taxpayer costs.

According to an analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance, passage of Proposition 61 has the potential for state savings of an unknown amount depending on how the measure’s implementation challenges are addressed and the response of drug manufactures regarding the provision and pricing of their drugs.

The implementation challenges include that confidentiality of some VA drug prices could compromise the state’s ability to implement the measure, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Major financial backing for the campaign on behalf of Proposition 61 comes from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The major backers for the campaign against the measure comes from the pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co., Inc. and Pfizer, Inc., according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

— City News Service


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