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Driving Down the Cost of Drugs: Battling Big Pharma in the Statehouse

Ramón Castellblanch
Driving Down the Cost of Drugs: Battling Big Pharma in the Statehouse
ISBN: 978-1-935049-45-6
2012/173 pages/LC: 2012000898
A FirstForumPress Book
Also of interest: Health Policy by James Brasfield and Pill Politics by Stephen J. Ceccoli
"Castellblanch has captured the dramatic twists and turns of legislative battles in Maine, California, and other states between low-income seniors and the pharmaceutical industry over the price of prescription drugs…. A great read for anyone who wants to know why some efforts succeed and others fail."—Tom Allen, US House of Representatives, 1997-2008

"Lively, well-written portraits of battles between the Big Pharma industry and groups trying to constrain the costs of drugs.... the cases engage the reader with their detail, drama, and reversals. There are also concrete and valuable lessons to be learned here about confronting superior financial power in social movements and political mobilization."—Theodore R. Marmor, Yale University


How can health-access advocates beat the wealthy pharmaceutical industry, which has the biggest spending lobby in Washington? Ramón Castellblanch provides a ringside seat at the battle as he reveals how activists in Vermont, Maine, and California took on Big Pharma in their state legislatures to promote better and cheaper access to prescription drugs—and ultimately pushed Congress to enact a Medicare prescription drug benefit. He also draws lessons from these cases about the possibilities for success elsewhere in the health policy arena, highlighting the crucial role that voters' righteous indignation plays in fueling popular support for grassroots political leaders who are taking on powerful business interests.


Ramón Castellblanch is associate professor of health education at San Francisco State University. Previously, he has been a health policy consultant for the California State Employees Association,  health policy analyst for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and political action director for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.


  • David, Goliath, and Prescription Drugs.
  • How Drugs Got So Expensive.
  • Vermont Raises the Cry.
  • As Goes Maine.
  • PhRMA Tries Stopping State Action.
  • So Goes California.
  • Politically Organizing for Access to Medicines.
  • Appendix: Useful Websites on Health Care Policy and Politics.