Thursday, September 18, 2003

Deal near on Ohio drug discount plan



By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Legislative leaders on Wednesday promised quick action if a tentative agreement between drug makers and a consumers coalition is approved by their respective governing boards.

Gov. Bob Taft, who plans to outline his administration's own discount drug program on Monday, said he would lobby for passage of the agreement into law.

Taft, Senate President Doug White and House Speaker Larry Householder, all Republicans, said they had been briefed on the plan Tuesday but would not be given the details until the governing boards' approval, expected today.

"We want to take a look at it. We're very supportive of the fact that it looks like they've come together with something," said Householder, a Glenford Republican.

The program would provide discounts of 25 percent to 40 percent off retail prices for seniors and low-income Ohioans, said Dale Butland, spokesman for the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs.

The group represents unions, the Ohio chapter of AARP, the Ohio Council of Churches, the Ohio Nurses' Association and the League of Women Voters.

Butland and Jenny Camper, spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American, or PhRMA, provided few details.

Taft said he had not seen the plan either, but he was encouraged by what he had heard. His office said it could not asses how the agreement would work with Taft's Golden Buckeye card program, which the administration has been trying to implement since January.

The coalition will drop its attempt to put the issue before voters if the Legislature implements the plan as approved by the two groups, Butland said.




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