Issue 2 could change drug prices in Ohio

The passionate debate on Issue 2 on drug prices is raging ahead of November. (WSYX/WTTE)

Dueling campaigns have spent millions of dollars on Issue 2 trying to convince voters to take their side in the ongoing debate over prescription drug pricing.

Issue 2 could dramatically change the way the State of Ohio buys prescription drugs. Both its supporters and critics said it could change the price people on private health care plans pay too.

Military veterans automatically get a federally-mandated 24 percent discount on prescription drugs. Congress voted it into law and drug companies go along with it. Supporters of Issue 2 promise their ballot measure would allow non-military veterans on state health care plans to get the same prices. They believe it will lower prices eventually for everyone while critics of the measure said it could backfire and do just the opposite.

Bethany Schweitzer, a working mother of three daughters in Galena, said she plans to vote in favor of Issue 2. Two of her daughters have potentially deadly peanut allergies so she must buy EpiPens for them every year.

"It wasn't as bad when she was first diagnosed," Schweitzer said of her oldest daughter. "I remember the first year going and getting the EpiPen and being like, 'Wow $120. That kind of hurts.' but it's not nearly as expensive as now going and it's over $600."

Schweitzer said she's in favor of this because she's tired of paying more and more for her children's medication. She's hoping Issue 2 could eventually lower prices for everyone.

"Do the drug companies deserve to mark up the price that much?" she said. "They're still going to make money."

Both sides have bombarded local TV channels with ads. One of the people in those ads speaking out against Issue 2 Air Force veteran Malcolm Glasgow. He's one of thousands of Ohio veterans who get the federally-mandated discount on prescription medication.

"That's a big, big benefit," Glasgow said. "For those who have it, they appreciate it and they need it, especially the guys that are 100 percent disabled. They really need it."

He's part of the American Legion Department of Ohio. He's one of many veterans concerned they'll lose their discount if it's given to thousands of other people too.

"It's an earned entitlement," he said. "You had to serve in the military, lay your life on the line in many cases, a lot of guys died for that."

The Yes Campaign has been funded by Michael Weinstein who runs an international AIDS non-profit based in California. The No Campaign has been getting its money from a non-profit which represents the pharmaceutical industry.

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