HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Role of State Attorneys General in Improving Prescription Drug Affordability

Michelle M. Mello (Stanford University), Trish Riley (affiliation not provided), Rachel Sachs (Washington University in Saint Louis), The Role of State Attorneys General in Improving Prescription Drug Affordability, S. Cal. L. Rev. (Forthcoming):

Impact litigation initiated by state attorneys general has played an important role in advancing public health goals in contexts as diverse as tobacco control, opioids, and healthcare antitrust. State attorneys general also play a critical role in helping governors and legislatures advance health policies by giving input into their drafting and defending them against legal challenges. State attorneys general have entered the prescription drug affordability arena in both these ways—for example, by initiating lawsuits relating to price fixing by generic drug manufacturers and defending state laws requiring disclosures of pharmaceutical prices. Yet the scope of their collective efforts is not well understood, and little is known about factors that facilitate and hinder them in their pursuit of policy objectives relating to drug affordability. In this Article, we report findings from an empirical study of state attorney general activities relating to pharmaceutical pricing. Drawing from key informant interviews with attorneys working on drug pricing issues as well as a scoping review, we report on how state attorneys general are working to address the problem of drug affordability, how they make decisions about resource investments in this area, what positions them to be effective change agents in this space, and what challenges they confront in this work. We situate our results within the broader literature state attorneys general as policy actors, and we suggest measures that could extend their capacity to successfully tackle the complex issues that give rise to unaffordable drugs.

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