California Moves to Dramatically Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law new first-in-the-nation legislation that could dramatically reduce prescription drug prices for all Californians.

The legislaton allows the State of California to create its own drug label, Cal Rx, and to produce and distribute its own line of biosimilars, biosimilar insulins, and generic drugs, with the aim of improving access for consumers and lowering prices.

The California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) is now authorized to develop manufacturing partnerships to produce or distribute generic prescription drugs, making essential medications affordable and accessible to more patients.  It will also inject much needed competition into near monopoly markets that have driven up prices for consumers and help end sometimes critical drug shortages.

Councilmember Melissa Fox and Senator Richard Pan

Because precription drug prices are one of the largest drivers of rising health care costs, this new legislation will also reduce the overall cost of health care.

As Governor Newsom said in advocating for the new law, “Prescription drug prices are too high. I’m proposing that California become the first state in the nation to establish its own generic drug label. It’s time to take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies.”

Governor Newsom further noted, “The cost of health care is way too high. Our bill will help inject competition back into the generic drug marketplace – taking pricing power away from big pharmaceutical companies and returning it to consumers. California is using our market power and our moral power to demand fairer prices for prescription drugs. I am proud to sign this legislation affirming our ground-breaking leadership in breaking down market barriers to affordable prescription drugs.”

As the legislation’s principle author, Dr. (and State Senator) Richard Pan, pointed out, “Prescription drugs don’t work if people cannot afford to take them.  We need to ensure that Californians will be able to have access to a reliable supply of affordable generic medications. The state can play a pivotal role in bringing prices down through this authority to negotiate a steady supply for all purchasers and an increase of competition in the drug markets,”  He added that the new legislation to open up access to affordable drugs for millions of Californians “is more important than ever, as the COVID-19 crisis brought to light glaring gaps in supplies of essential, lifesaving drugs, and medical equipment and supplies.”

I strongly support this new and innovative approach to lowering precsription drug prices, making critical presciption medicine and health care more available as well as more affordable.

In contrast, my opponent in Assembly District 68, Steven Choi, refused to support this important legislation and did not even vote on this bill.

His campaign has received tens of thousands of dollars from the pharmaceutical and medical industries and their political action committies. In addition, according to his legally required Statements of Economic Interests filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Choi holds substantial investments in numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Sanofi, Johnson &Johnson, GlaxoSmith-Kline, Celgene, and Novo Nordisk, so that he personally profits from high presciption drug prices.

Unlike Steven Choi, I’ll be part of the solution to the high cost of prescription drugs, not part of —  or profit from — the problem.