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No on Proposition 61

No on Proposition 61


Proposition 61 sought to impose unworkable contracting requirements for some state prescription drug purchases based on the lowest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Proposition 61 was among the most controversial ballot measures on a loaded 2016 ballot, especially given the charged atmosphere over prescription drug costs. Articles on Martin Shkreli and the Epi-Pen price hike were among the many stories of prescription cost jumps during the election cycle inciting negative views of the pharmaceutical industry.

Furthermore, the environment among third parties and the media was hostile.

BCF was hired to oversee coalition building, grassroots, earned media, social and digital media. Our strategy was to attempt to separate feelings about the cost of prescription drugs from Proposition 61 – a flawed measure that would have made matters worse.

Major Accomplishments

Press: Despite the difficult media environment, BCF was able to present a sound case that Prop 61 was flawed policy through the presentation of credible, policy-based arguments and believable third-party spokespeople. In all, media coverage of Prop 61 was balanced and every major newspaper editorialized NO on Prop 61, including the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Bay Area News Group, Southern California News Group and fifty others.

Coalition: BCF organized a dynamic team of consultants and helped build a diverse coalition opposed to Prop 61. BCF helped build a strong, broad-based coalition of more than 200 organizations, including veterans, patient advocates, doctors, clinics, businesses, labor unions, LGBTQ and other groups. Many of these organizations were opposed to the industry on other issues at the state and federal levels, but joined them in opposition to Prop 61 because of the flawed policy. Equally important, BCF and the team helped earn the neutrality of critical third parties including the California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, Consumers Union, and many other groups that are credible with the voters and media. BCF engaged these organizations in the campaign’s paid and earned media efforts. BCF was successful in recruiting physicians, veterans, professors and others from within these organizations for campaign mailers, radio, digital and TV ads. BCF also worked closely with these individuals to media train them for press interviews, to speak at community events and author opinion editorials.

Grassroots: BCF was able to engage the full coalition in grassroots efforts to reach millions of California voters through constant communications. For example, BCF worked with the veteran advocates and veteran service organizations to reach out to hundreds of thousands of California veterans to vote no on Prop 61 and spread the word. This effort included email blasts, event booths, newsletter articles and social media.

End Result

Prop 61 was handily defeated 53% – 47% by California voters on November 8, 2016.