pill.jpgA ballot measure calling on San Francisco officials to negotiate with manufacturers and advocate for legislation to reduce prescription drug prices has qualified for the November ballot, advocates said today.

The Prescription Drug Purchasing initiative is intended to reduce the $23 million that San Francisco spends every year on providing prescription drugs through its hospitals and clinics, county jail, and through the Healthy San Francisco program, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The foundation is a major funder of the Committee on Fair Drug Pricing, a coalition of groups sponsoring the initiative.

The city spends around $3.5 million on antiretroviral medications alone to treat patients with HIV and related conditions, the group said.

The ballot measure would make it city policy to seek all opportunities to reduce the prices of prescription drugs and call for the city to negotiate directly with drug companies. It also calls on the city to work for legislation reducing drug prices paid by government agencies.

“Prescription drug costs place an enormous–and growing–financial burden not only on our residents and employers, but also on local governments who pay for the safety net that protects the most vulnerable within our community,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

“I look forward to working with our city’s diverse communities who need relief from these costs and supporting the Prescription Drug Initiative,” Chiu added.

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