Consumer Watchdog Joins Patient Advocates for YES ON 61 Bus Tour Kickoff in Downtown LA In Historic Replay of David vs Goliath Struggle For Auto Insurance Reform

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Los Angeles, CA —  Taking the fight for lower-priced prescription drugs to the streets, Consumer Watchdog Campaign joined nurses, seniors, and patients to call for an end to price-gouging by the pharmaceutical industry at the kick-off of the Yes on 61 campaign’s statewide bus tour. The tour will bring public awareness to the issue of high drug prices, which Prop 61 would begin to regulate in California, by lowering the cost of state drug purchases.

Speaking at the launch, Consumer Watchdog’s executive director Carmen Balber likened the campaign for Prop 61 to the historic populist victory that lowered auto insurance rates at the ballot box 28 years ago through Proposition 103.

“When auto insurance companies were price-gouging consumers in 1988, California voters went to the ballot and regulated rates, despite an $80 million campaign against it,” said Balber, on behalf of Consumer Watchdog Campaign. “Now Big Pharma is spending $90 million to try and kill drug price reform.”

Auto insurance rate regulation through Prop 103 has delivered more than $100 billion in savings to the drivers in the state according a report by the Consumer Federation of America.

The bus tour begins as Prop 61 holds a wide lead in the latest polls. A USC/ LA Times poll conducted in the first week of September showed that 66% of voters would vote yes on the initiative if the election were today – compared to just 23% who would vote no. The initiative holds the strongest lead among the 17 propositions that will be on the California ballot in November.

Balber told the assembled group, “We only have to ask one question: When was the last time drug companies spent $90 million to lower drug prices for consumers? Voters will see through the drug companies’ scare tactics, just as they saw through the insurance industry spending in 1988. Prop 61 puts California on the road to lower drug prices for everyone.”

In the face of overwhelming public support for the initiative, drug companies have donated $90 million to the campaign to defeat the measure. Most Californians have already seen the deceptive advertising blitz that has blanketed websites telling voters to oppose the initiative.

The Yes on 61 coalition includes the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the California Nurses Association, Vote Vets, Courage Campaign, and AARP. The initiative has received an endorsement from Bernie Sanders and his new organization, Our Revolution.

The issue of outrageous drug pricing has captured the public’s anger in recent months after a string of high-profile drug companies raising costs on patients. Drug company Mylan has been under intense scrutiny after news broke that the company had increased EpiPen prices from $100 per pack to $600 in just eight years. Meanwhile, Mylan’s CEO received a nearly $19 million salary.

Consumer Watchdog Campaign, a California-based nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization, is the advocacy and campaign affiliate of Consumer Watchdog, organized to protect the interests of consumers' interests in the ballot initiative and legislative process.

This communication is paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign – Yes on 61, Major Funding by Yes on Prop 61, Californians for Lower Drug Prices, With Major Funding by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and California Nurses Association PAC. FPPC ID#1387641

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Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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