Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday vetoed two bills by
Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) meant to lower the cost of
prescription drugs for Californians.
Frommer's bills were in response to the skyrocketing cost of
prescription drugs in the U.S. and sought to allow Californians to
buy their drugs from Canadian pharmacies. Schwarzenegger, instead,
sought to tout his own plan, which he said would also lower the cost
of prescription drugs.
Frommer's bills would have given the state power to look in to how
much it could save if various state agencies purchased drugs from
Canada, and set up a consumer website with information on prices of
Canadian drugs and links to California-certified pharmaceutical
companies there. His bills would also have authorized the California
Public Employee's Retirement System to join with other public and
private groups in order to cut costs by purchasing drugs in bulk from
"Today was a big test of the governor's rhetoric versus his
actions," Frommer said. "He had an opportunity to help Californians
save on prescription drugs and he sided with the prescription drug
industry, which has given him more in political contributions than
any other politician except President Bush."
The vetoes came as no surprise to Frommer, who was notified by the
governor in August that his bills would be vetoed unless they were
Schwarzenegger said in a statement that Frommer's bills, AB 1957
and 1958, would have undermined his efforts to develop and implement
a California State Pharmacy Assistance Program, which would secure
lower prescription costs for the elderly and uninsured through the
Department of Health Services.
According to the statement, Schwarzenegger has already begun
negotiating with pharmaceutical companies regarding their
participation in the program. He has received commitments by some
companies to join the program, but others have balked, according to
The governor's program, however, would not maximize savings to
consumers, Frommer said.
"The prices under his program would still be 30 to 50% more than
Californians can get under my bill," Frommer said, adding that he
thinks drug prices at Costco are lower than under the governor's
While one of Schwarzenegger's top priorities is to provide access
to affordable prescription drugs, he said in the statement, that
importing drugs from Canada or assisting residents to do so, such as
Frommer's bills attempted, violates federal law and could expose the
state to lawsuits.
But Frommer said that at least six other states -- Minnesota,
Wisconsin, North Dakota, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Illinois --
have set up websites similar to the one he proposed.
"The legislative council looked at this bill and found that it
doesn't violate federal law. Six other states are doing this and not
one of them has been shut down," Frommer said.
The website, he added, would simply have given information on
Canadian drugs, and told consumers which companies are certified by
the U.S., and would not have authorized the selling of Canadian drugs
on the site.
"We like to call him the exaggerator. He says a lot of things that
just aren't true," Frommer said of the governor. "In fact, his
misstatements are growing each day. This is not a movie set where you
can say what you want. You've got to get your facts straight."
Frommer said he has not decided if he will introduce the same
bills next year.