Over 5 million Californians are expected to benefit from this program and will receive discounts of up to 60% on their medications.

This bill is modeled after Proposition 79, a drug discount initiative on last November’s ballot in California. Prop 79 failed to pass, as did drug company backed, Prop 78–a discount plan with no enforcement. Drug companies spent over $80 million to defeat Prop 79, and set the record for the most expensive campaign in any state’s history. In the remaining days of session, drug company lobbyists worked hard to defeat the bill, but were unsuccessful in the end.

Consumers Union activists worked with a coalition of CA senior, consumer and health groups to pass this bill. Hundreds sent emails, called their legislators and some even lobbied and handed out leaflets in Sacramento.

This is a huge victory for California residents. This bill may spread the idea of government negotiation of drug prices to other states and Congress. Inside Washington Publishers discusses this, “Consumer groups say the bill has implications that extend well beyond California’s borders, especially in an election year when the topic of price negotiation surrounding Medicare’s prescription drug benefit — a practice prohibited explicitly under Part D — has elicited a firestorm of partisan contention.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger has seen the light about using the government’s purchasing power to help the needy afford their medications, including the elderly whose drugs aren’t covered by Medicare,” Earl Lui, an attorney for Consumers Union, said in a statement. “It’s time for Congress to do the same and use its power to negotiate drug discounts for those in Medicare.”

We’ll soon see if Congress and other states begin to follow California’s lead, it is known to be a bellwether state…