Driving Down the Cost of Drugs: Battling Big Pharma in the Statehouse
by Ramon Castellblanch
Reviewed By Stas Margaronis
San Francisco State University professor Ramon Castellblanch gives us an in-depth view of the struggle by grass-roots and labor activists to bring down the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, a major factor in high health care costs in the United States.
This is a tale about repeated attempts to pass legislation on the state level being frustrated by massive drug company spending on politicians who are all too willing to give in for money.
Thus, the challenge for would be reformers requires a huge effort to counter balance the money and lobbying drug companies can unleash to manipulate politicians and regulators to keep drug prices high. A parallel campaign oriented toward doctors makes the medical profession accessories to the dispensing of drugs for money not merit.
Vermont where drug reform legislation to provide lower prices was popularly backed but defeated by drug company lobbyists who benefited from the intervention of then Vermont Governor Howard Dean. The book describes how Dean came to the aid of the drug companies to defeat the legislation and is a reminder on how supposedly progressive politicians can be compromised by corporate lobbying.
Maine legislation is passed thanks to a concerted effort led by the Maine State Employees Association.
The Maine success impelled drug lobbyists to go to Washington and obtain legislation to federalize the process that undermine efforts to provide access to cheaper prescription drugs.
California is the battleground for passage of a modest law to provide cheaper access to drugs following a prolonged battle with drug company allies. This helps set the stage for winning a Medicare prescription drug benefit in the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Castellblanch argues for an ongoing consumer labor coalition to withstand the political assault financed by global drug companies.
Equally profoundly, Castellblanch’s book repeats the warning about how the erosion of U.S. democracy continues without effective campaign finance legislation.