Cleveland Clinic demands Toby Cosgrove be removed from ballot initiative ads

Lawyers for Cleveland Clinic sent a cease-and-desist letter on Tuesday to proponents of a state ballot initiative, demanding the group immediately stop sending mailers that include a photograph and quote from Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD, according to the Akron Beacon Journal

Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, the group encouraging a Yes on Issue 2 vote, paid for the ads featuring Dr. Cosgrove. Issue 2, also called the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, will appear on the November ballot. The ballot initiative seeks to lower the price the state government pays for prescription drugs to no more than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays.

Cleveland Clinic claims the group sent a flyer to about 2 million people that features a photo of Dr. Cosgrove and comments he made at a May forum on healthcare at the Cleveland City Club. Cleveland Clinic says the group used the image and comments without permission from Dr. Cosgrove or the Clinic.

"As a longstanding practice, Dr. Cosgrove and the Cleveland Clinic have rarely taken positions on Ohio ballot issues and they will certainly take no position on Issue 2," the letter stated.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices said the Yes on Issue 2 campaign "never said Dr. Cosgrove endorsed Issue 2," and Dr. Cosgrove made all of the comments included in the flyer at a public forum.

"The Yes on Issue 2 campaign thanks Dr. Cosgrove for his courage in standing up and speaking out so valiantly against the big drug companies … and we have not heard anything to indicate Dr. Cosgrove has changed his views or that he is disavowing anything he said publicly," the statement read, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Cleveland Clinic is demanding the group immediately stop using Dr. Cosgrove's name and photo as well as the system's name in any ads. Cleveland Clinic is also demanding the group send another flyer to the same households to retract the misrepresentations, according to the report.

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