West Virginians pay more of their income on prescription drugs than anyone else in America.

Part of that may be related to West Virginians having one of the lowest earned incomes.

West Virginia lawmakers are trying to reduce costs by piggybacking onto a federal pricing schedule.

Lobbyists for the drug company have been filling the capitol rotunda this week.

They brought drug sales people to the capitol last week saying they will lose their jobs.

"They are not here to help West Virginia," Governor Bob Wise said of the pharmacy companies.

Mountain State residents could save $534 million this year alone if the Legislature adopts the Pharmaceutical Availability and Affordability Act, said Alan Sager of Boston University's School of Public Health.

The federal affordability program bases prices on what drug companies charge their favorite private customers, which averages about 42 percent below retail.

Lobbyists for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have been lobbying against West Virginia's proposed bill, every which way they can.

Company lobbyist Jan Faiks says "This bill is government-mandated price control. It's your form of socialized medicine."

The pharmacy companies have enlisted some veterans' groups to argue it threatens the low prices the veterans groups enjoy.

A West Virginia University law professor likened the drug lobby to terrorists, by holding veterans hostage with threatened price increases.

"They're going to punish someone you care about," Kevin Outterson said. "It is a ridiculous argument."

The law professor predicted that the pharmacy industry would sue the state and delay the bill's implementation, as the trade group did with a prescription drug program in Maine.

Andrew Krulwich, a Washington, D.C., lawyer hired by the Pfizer drug company said the bill would illegally interfere in interstate commerce.

Amendments are being considered to not hurt the state's pharmacies.

Dan Kurland, who helps run Charleston's Covenant House shelter, said the fear instilled in veterans is typical of the drug lobby's tactics.

"The initial complaint was basically staged by the drug industry. We must not be held hostage by every Chicken Little scenario," he said.

Don Ray, general manager of WSAZ-TV, said the bill might prompt drug makers to spend less on the direct-to-consumer TV ads that have become a major revenue source.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has "serious reservations" about the bill's proposals, their lobbyist Brenda Nichols Harper apparently opposing the bill.

West Virginia is also launching an initiative to obtain drugs through Canada and other counties that get the product for much less than wholesale prices to the state's drug stores. That proposal will pass the savings on to the state's pharmacies.