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California props

Prescription drug pricing measure Proposition 61 goes down to defeat

 (Alicia Chang / Los Angeles Times)
(Alicia Chang / Los Angeles Times)

Proposition 61, the most expensive statewide initiative on the ballot this November, has been defeated by a 54-46 margin.

The ballot measure sought to lower prescription drug prices by requiring that state agencies pay no more for medicines than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

Proponents of the measure, funded almost entirely by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, had argued that Proposition 61 would be a strong voter rebuke of pharmaceutical industry greed. Supporters included Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned up and down the state for the measure.

Drug companies led the campaign opposing the proposition, raising a record $109 million to defeat the measure. They argued the initiative could lead to higher drug costs for veterans and seniors if the pharmaceutical industry refused to sell the state medicines at lower prices.

Proponents of the measure raised more than $19 million to support it, and fundraising figures for both sides made it one of the priciest ballot measures in California history.

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