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California Proposition 79

Schubert Flint Public Affairs represented the pharmaceutical industry, patient advocacy organizations, civic groups, patients and business organizations in the 2005 California special election. Our primary objective was to defeat Prop. 79, which would have severely damaged the industry and California's healthcare system by instituting a price control regime that let trial lawyers file private right of action lawsuits against drug makers claming that prices or profits were too high. This could have occurred with virtually every one of the 200 million prescriptions written annually in the state.

Because of the industry's poor public image, we believed it would not have been credible for the industry to simply oppose Prop. 79 without offering an alternative. Prop. 78 was that alternative. Having it on the ballot allowed us to compare and contrast the two measures from a credible communications platform. It also allowed us to coalesce a large group of allies. Strategically, it was important to acknowledge the problem of high prescription drug costs (which we did through Prop. 78), while exposing Prop. 79 as a flawed solution. We developed a "right problem, wrong solution" communications platform. Key messages used throughout all campaign disciplines - advertising, earned media, grassroots, direct mail - centered on how Prop. 79 was the wrong prescription for California. On November 8, 2005 Prop. 79 was defeated by a substantial margin by California voters.



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