Press Release: Graduate Center Student’s Research Helped Pass Law against Prescription-Drug Price Gouging

A white paper by Graduate Center doctoral student Kimberly Libman that targeted prescription-drug price gouging played a vital role in the passage of legislation signed into law by Governor David Paterson. The legislation was drafted by New York State Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner and co-sponsored by State Senator Tom Duane. Libman’s research helped move the legislation out of committee and on to passage.

“The new law will protect millions of people with chronic and life-threatening diseases, who might otherwise find themselves forced to pay thousands of dollars a month for the life-saving medications they need,” Kellner, who represents Assembly District 65 on the East Side of Manhattan, said in a written statement.

Libman, a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Psychology, is the Graduate Center’s first Urban Policy Fellow in a program headed by Dr. Stephen Brier, Professor of Urban Education and Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs to President William Kelly. In the program, advanced Graduate Center doctoral students conduct policy research and draft “white papers” in support of prospective legislation.

The legislation prohibits so-called “specialty tiers” in pricing prescription drugs. “Specialty tiering has become a major problem for patients in other states, where insured consumers with chronic diseases and life-threatening illnesses are charged ‘coinsurance,’” Kellner noted. This is “typically 25-33 percent of the total retail cost of their medications, making these life-saving drugs unaffordable for many who rely on them.” The bill prohibits “this outrageous practice from ever happening in New York,” he said.

Libman’s white paper showed that the drugs commonly categorized as “specialty” drugs in insurance plans with specialty-tier schemes are used to treat conditions affecting almost four million New Yorkers. These include: breast cancer, colorectal cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, HIV and AIDS, cystic fibrosis, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, hepatitis B and C, diabetes, psoriasis, kidney disease, anemia, and neutropenia, among other serious medical conditions.

The Graduate Center is devoted primarily to doctoral studies, and awards most of the City University of New York’s Ph.D.s. An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs, as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to more than thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns. Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events. Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at www.gc.cuny.edu.

Submitted on: OCT 1, 2010

Category: Psychology, Urban Education, Press Room