Prescription Access Litigation Project

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
August 30, 2005

The Prescription Access Litigation Project (PAL) is a project of Boston-based Community Catalyst. PAL is a nationwide coalition of over 100 senior, consumer, labor and health advocacy groups in 35 states fighting to make prescription drugs affordable. PAL’s coalition has a combined membership of over 13 million and includes national organizations such as the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Medicare Rights Center, Alliance for Retired Americans, and state chapters of the PIRGs and Citizen Action. Since its launch in 2001, PAL member groups have filed 23 sets of lawsuits targeting drug industry practices that illegally push the price of prescription drugs beyond the reach of the American consumer. The productss to which the suits pertain include Adalat, Augmentin, Bextra, BuSpar, Celebrex, Cipro, Claritin, Estratest, Imodium, K-Dur, Lupron, Neurontin, Neurontin II, Nexium, Norvir, Oxycontin, Relafen, Remicade, Tamoxifen, Vioxx, and Wellbutrin.

The goal of PAL’s class-action lawsuits is to force pharmaceutical companies to end the unfair and illegitimate practices they use to abuse their monopoly power and keep prices high. One way would be to enable generic drug makers will be able to come to market without interference from the brand name manufacturers. Generic drugs are typically priced at 30-80% below the brand name drug.

The longer-term goal is to stop drug company practices that keep the cost of drugs high. These include anti-competitive practices, improper drug promotions, price manipulation, and price gouging.

The lawsuits will also move the issue of access to prescription drugs to the forefront of the public eye. Historically, class action lawsuits have been a vehicle to encourage legislative leaders to take action on a particular policy issue. PAL hopes that its initiative will persuade state and Congressional legislative leaders to address the high price of prescription drugs and the problems many people experience in obtaining needed medications.

This page was posted on August 30, 2005