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This weekly column offers opinions on the latest pharmaceutical industry news.

When shopping for a good deal, people usually want the same bargain as the next guy. And a group of AIDS activists is taking this approach in hopes of containing the rising cost of prescription drugs.

In California and Ohio, they’re pushing ballot measures that would require state programs — such as Medicaid or prison systems — to pay no more for medicines than the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Beyond receiving a set 24 percent discount from drug makers, the agency is free to negotiate still lower prices for its 151 hospitals and 800 community clinics that serve millions of vets around the country.


This is in stark contrast to Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older and disabled Americans, which is not allowed to negotiate drug prices. This is a point of contention in the accelerating national debate over the rising cost of medicines. About 7 out of 10 Americans believe Medicare should be able to negotiate, according to a recent poll by STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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