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CEO DATELINE – PhRMA sides against California rent control initiative

Sept. 21, 2018
By Walt Williams

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Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has contributed $500,000 to a campaign to defeat a California ballot measure that would expand rent controls across the state, leaving some political observers scratching their heads as to why a pharmaceutical industry group would take sides in an issue with no clear links to health care, according to the news site Stat.

Proposition 10 would reverse a state law preventing local governments from enacting rent controls on certain proprieties, if the measure is adopted by voters in the November elections. PhRMA said it opposes the ballot initiative because passage would make it harder for pharmaceutical employees to find affordable housing in the state.

However, Stat reported that some people following the issue believe PhRMA opposes Prop 10 because the effort is bankrolled by a group that has pushed ballot measures that would have capped drug prices in California and other states. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, led by activist Michael Weinstein, sees housing policy as a key to health and believes PhRMA’s opposition amounts to “payback” for opposing the pharmaceutical industry’s interests.

“They consider us an enemy, and they have unlimited money to spend on anything they want,” Weinstein told Stat. “It’s preposterous for them to say they have an interest in this issue.”

Prop 10 is not the first time PhRMA and Weinstein have clashed on housing policy. The activist was the prime driver behind a 2017 ballot measure that would have tightened zoning laws in Los Angeles County. The association contributed $25,000 to defeat the measure and it was rejected by voters.