By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Signatures have been submitted in an effort aimed at keeping Ohio agencies and publicly-funded entities from buying prescription drugs at prices higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays.

Ohioans for Fair Drug Prices and AIDS Healthcare Foundation group say more than 171,000 signatures were turned in Tuesday in their campaign to force a vote on the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act.

The measure is what’s called an initiated statute, meaning that once sufficient signatures are verified, the state Legislature would have four months to pass the law as written.

If lawmakers fail to do so, backers could advance a fall statewide ballot issue in 2016.

Advocates say their effort is about lowering drug costs for all consumers, not just those with chronic health issues.

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