Judge Barnett Protects Jackley’s Explanation of Drug Price Cap

Former Attorney General, now Sixth Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett today backed current Attorney General Marty Jackley by rejecting the pharmaceutical industry’s effort to force Jackley to write a new, more thorough explanation of the drug-price-cap initiative currently circulating in South Dakota.

As I explained Sunday, the South Dakota Biotechnology Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) sued Jackley on August 31, claiming that he left key information out of his legally required explanation of the ballot measure. A.G. Jackley provides no details of Judge Barnett’s decision; he just says, I followed the law, and Mark agrees:

“I have worked to provide a fair, clear, and simple summary of the proposed measure in order to assist our voters. The role of the Attorney General when writing the voter explanation is to be fair and neutral and not to advocate for or against a ballot measure. The Court has reaffirmed the fairness of this process,” said Jackley [Attorney General’s office, press release, 2017.09.12].

Initiative supporter Rick Weiland blows big neener-neeners at Big Pharma:

“The people of South Dakota won,” said Rick Weiland, a key supporter of the South Dakota Drug Price Relief Act. “The drug industry tried to protect their price-gouging practices by denying South Dakota voters their constitutional right to decide whether our measure should be on the ballot but they failed.”

…“The Attorney General’s explanation makes it clear our measure would require South Dakota’s state agencies to pay no more for prescription drugs than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for the same drugs – which is generally about 24 percent less than what the drug companies charge their commercial customers,” said Weiland. “The Attorney General’s explanation was clear, concise and accurate.”

“The drug companies wanted to insert language in the explanation that was irrelevant to the essence of the measure and would have muddied the waters,” Weiland said. “We’ve seen this before, delay the campaign and tie us up in expensive lawsuits. Bottom-line: they want to keep our measure to lower the cost of prescription drugs off the ballot. We’re extremely gratified that Judge Barnett denied their challenge and supported the Attorney General’s explanation” [TakeItBack.org, press release, 2017.09.12].

PhRMA sued in Ohio last year to keep a similar measure off that state’s general election ballot; that suit failed, and Ohioans get to vote this fall on the drug price cap, which Bernie Sanders thinks is a good idea.