Issue 2: Another lesser of 2 evils choice

ReubenMees Fall2016

Every year I go to the polls, I seem to be faced with the same decision: Which of the two bad options is the lesser of two evils?

That’s just as much a dilemma going into this Tuesday’s election as it was during the 2016 presidential race.

This year, however, it’s not about which ill-suited individual will lead but whether or not bad policy is better than no policy at all.

The issue in question, of course, is the confusing statewide Issue 2, or the Drug Price Relief Act as it has been dubbed by its proponents.

More than $100 million has been pumped into advertising campaigns for and against the referendum — with a constant bombardment of television ads and printed mailings arriving daily.

The proponents, on one hand, point out that prescription drug manufacturers are raking in money hand over fist by overcharging Americans for medication. True. They fail to disclose, however, that the lawyers who are funding Issue 2 will be allowed to sue the state of Ohio at taxpayer expense if the referendum becomes law.

On the other hand, prescription drug manufacturers say the claims that the issue will save money are based on inaccurate information and, in no uncertain terms, say the drug companies intend to pass any lost revenue off on average American consumers instead of considering cuts to the industry’s bloated $100 billion a year advertising and lobbying budget.

As a voter, anything that might help control drug costs sounds like a good idea. Of course, subsidizing trial lawyers leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

On the flip side, I don’t relish being threatened and a flat “No” vote probably means a “No” to meaningful change on any level. We could leave it up to the politicians in Columbus to address, but it’s no secret that nearly all of them are recipients of money flowing from the industry’s advertising and lobbying budget.

Two years ago, I thought leaving medical marijuana up to legislators might be a good route to go, but naturally they loused it up — keeping the worst parts of the voter referendum and scrapping the portions that could have had some merit.

With their allowance at stake, I don’t at all count on legislators handling the outrageous and skyrocketing cost of prescription drug prices with any degree of competence.

It’s largely for this reason I intend to vote “Yes” on Issue 2 on Tuesday. It’s definitely not because I think Issue 2 is great policy. I don’t even really think it will save taxpayers that much money. It’s just better than nothing at all or letting people getting paid by big pharma make the decision, in my opinion.

It’s the same reason the Ohio Association of Family Physicians is the only medical association that supports the issue. As the physicians’ organization states:

“This initiated statute is far from perfect, simplistic, and flawed in many respects, and may not be the best approach for addressing high drug costs. But, because of the inaction of state and federal lawmakers, it is all we have. By supporting this issue, we hope to send a message to legislators — the exorbitant cost of medications and the negative impact those costs have on patients must be addressed.”

It most likely will not pass but, possibly, someone will get the message that it is an important issue for voters.

If, however, it does make it through, I don’t believe the sky will come crashing down. Some lawyers will get paid and the pharmaceutical industry will still make money but it could open the door to real and meaningful conversation about what can be done to address rising drug costs the right way.

Either way, it’s still just the lesser of two evils.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner Staff Writer who is tired of getting ripped off by drug dealers peddling pills in board rooms and doctors’ office. He can be reached at