Already the war of the airwaves has been launched. One side warns in its television ads about the greed of the drug companies. The other advises: Don’t be fooled by a deceptive campaign that will not deliver what it promises, lower prescription drug prices. This is Issue 2 on the statewide ballot in November.

Worth stressing at the outset is that the crisis in drug pricing, the cost in this country far outpacing peer nations, requires a national solution. The sweep and complexities of purchasing, distribution and other elements are beyond the capacity of any one state to fix.

Might a state deliver a measure of improvement? That is what the proponents, Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, contend. The issue simply requires the state to pay no more for prescription drugs than the price paid by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. By law, the VA receives a 24 percent discount.

A first instinct is to embrace the idea, if nothing else for Ohioans to make a statement about the need to corral drug prices. The ballot issue is an initiated statute. Thus, lawmakers could make necessary adjustments along the way.

Unfortunately, this measure features too many flaws in its structure. Consider, for instance, the price paid by the VA, that key benchmark in the proposal. Three former state Medicaid directors, from Democratic and Republican administrations, argue the price isn’t established so easily. If the VA gets its mandated discount, it also negotiates additional reductions, the details often beyond the reach of the public. So, it becomes a problem to meet the intent.

More troubling, as the former directors point out, are the sharp differences in the way the VA and the state systems operate. The VA runs its own pharmacy, in effect, with a huge share distributed by mail order. The state relies more heavily on pharmacies. As a result, it faces a distribution cost factor that the VA does not.

That suggests the impracticality of pegging the state to the VA price. The benchmark doesn’t reflect the real costs to the state system.

And if the state had to make things work, reaching the required price for buying drugs? The fallout likely would not be friendly to many consumers. The state might seek to narrow its drug formulary, or increase co-pays, or expand mail order, or reduce the amount it pays pharmacies. Such are the unintended consequences that concern the former directors.

Consider, too, that the ballot issue does not cover two-thirds of Ohioans, for instance, those with Medicare or employer-based health insurance. Yet they could be affected as drug companies engage in cost-shifting to recover revenue.

Proponents of Issue 2 argue that the former directors are little more than shills for the drug industry. That overlooks the battles they pursued against the industry during their time in public office. They bring an expertise that helps, say, in noting that Medicaid, which accounts for 75 percent of state drug costs, already realizes a discount comparable to the VA reduction.

With passage, expect lawsuits. Already the state retirement funds insist they are not covered by the ballot issue. Others say they are. Which gets to the second element of the ballot language, the provision allowing the four petitioners to intervene in any legal challenges — with taxpayers picking up their attorney fees.

Yes, the drug companies are paying for the opposition, and true, they cut an unsympathetic profile. That doesn’t translate into looking past what is structurally unsound about Issue 2.