But the alternative measure on the upcoming ballot – Proposition 78 – isn’t any better. Proposition 78 is a dirty trick the drug companies came up with to defeat Proposition 79. It’s a meaningless, purely voluntary program under which pharmaceutical manufacturers could, but wouldn’t have to, cut prices. (Which, it’s worth noting, they’re free to do now.) So why put Proposition 78 on the ballot at all? Because if both it and Proposition 79 pass, only the higher vote-getter will take effect. The drug companies figure that even if they can’t defeat Proposition 79 outright, they can thwart it by drumming up more votes for their bogus countermeasure. And while we happen to agree that Proposition 79 is a bad idea, we refuse to play along with this deceitful strategy to confuse voters. The initiative process is a crucial component of California democracy. Disingenuous measures that serve only to debase it ought to be voted down. As for the question of how to make prescription drugs more affordable, this is a topic that needs to be addressed at the federal level. The new Medicare prescription-drug benefit may be a step in the right direction, but clearly when American drugs can be bought cheaper in Canada than in the U.S., something is not right. Too bad neither Proposition 78 nor 79 would fix that. DAILY NEWS SPECIAL ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS TO DATE: Proposition 74, teacher-tenure reform: Yes Proposition 78, voluntary prescription-drug discounts: No Proposition 79, mandatory prescription-drug discounts: No Proposition 80, energy regulation: No LAUSD Measure Y, school bond: No160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! There are two propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot that deal with the problem of runaway prescription-drug costs, both of which deserve to be defeated – albeit for very different reasons. First, there’s Proposition 79, a solution that’s arguably worse than the problem it purports to solve. Then there’s Proposition 78, a sham and an affront to the initiative process. Let’s start with Proposition 79. The measure would try to pressure drug companies into providing prescriptions at a steep discount to those who earn up to 400 percent of the poverty level. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Sounds good, except that because the federal government is responsible for regulating drug manufacturers, there’s little the state can do about the matter. Thus the only leverage Proposition 79 can bring to bear is to penalize drug companies that don’t cooperate by denying sales of their drugs to Medi-Cal patients. But this is a dicey proposition. For starters, Medi-Cal depends on federal funding, so California could only deny coverage for certain drugs if it first got Washington’s approval. And no administration, Democrat or Republican, has shown much willingness to leverage classes of patients this way. For good reason. It would be wrong to use poor Medi-Cal patients – and their access to crucial medications – as pawns in a battle with pharmaceutical manufacturers. Worse yet, in a sop to trial lawyers, Proposition 79 includes a provision that would allow for lawsuits like the ones that voters barred by passing Proposition 64 last year. That alone should doom the bill.