Advocating for drug pricing reform

New GHJP Report Examines Curbing Unfair Drug Prices

In 2015, prescription drug spending reached $457 billion, accounting for roughly 17 percent of total health care costs. Confronted with rising drug prices, one in four Americans report difficulty affording their prescription medications. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry continues to launch new drugs at exorbitant prices, gratuitously increase prices of many old drugs without justification, and reap record profits. The need for legislative action is urgent.

As part of the GHJP Practicum in Spring 2017, a group of Yale students worked in collaboration with the Universal Healthcare Foundation for Connecticut and the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) to assist state legislatures in stepping in to fill the policy vacuum. The GHJP team researched and documented state-by-state initiatives to curb rising drug prices, and developed materials for states considering drug pricing legislation. The group analyzed more than 80 pharmaceutical pricing bills from over 30 states around the country, identifying strategic lessons and best practices, and created support materials for legislators, government officials, advocates, and constituents concerned about drug prices. On April 9, 2017, the group presented its findings at a prescription drug pricing forum jointly hosted by NPA and UHCF. The group summarized its findings and recommendations in a white paper available here. For more information on what GHJP is doing to bring about a more just system for the development and distribution of medicine, you can find their current projects listed here.

The team’s work contributed critically to the first major successful legislative drive at the state level, when in April Maryland became the first state in the nation to pass a bill that specifically prohibits unconscionable drug price increases.  The law empowers the state attorney to pursue violations and impose penalties on manufacturers. This was the first year that Connecticut considered significant drug pricing reforms, but attention was diverted by the ongoing budget negotiations and the debate about ACA reform.  The team consolidated its work by producing a white paper, in collaboration with our partners, to guide states that are considering drug price reform in the future, about their options and their implications.

For information about our drug pricing research and advocacy efforts specifically related to Hepatitis C medications, visit Expanding Access to New Cures for Hepatitis C.


Aaron Berman, Theodore Lee, Adam Pan, Zain Rizvi, Arielle Thomas. "Curbing Unfair Drug Prices: A Primer for States" (2017) (available here)

Kapczynski, A. and A. Kesselheim “Government Patent Use’: A Legal Approach To Reducing Drug Spending” Health Affairs (2016) (available here)

Kapczynski, A. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership — Is It Bad for Your Health?” The New England Journal of Medicine (2015) (available here)

Brennan, Hannah and Kapczynski, Amy and Monahan, Christine H. and Rizvi, Zain. "A Prescription for Excessive Drug Pricing: Leveraging Government Patent Use for Health" Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 577; Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 560. (2016) (available here)