Rebecca Lee Haffajee

Photo of Rebecca Haffajee
Policy Researcher
Boston Office


Ph.D. in health policy, Harvard University; J.D. in law, Harvard University; M.P.H. in public health, Harvard University; B.A. in women's studies, Duke University


Rebecca Haffajee is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct assistant professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. A lawyer and health policy researcher, Haffajee’s work combines detailed legal analyses with empirical investigations of the relationships between policy and health. Substantively, she focuses in the behavioral health, drug policy, and public health areas. Her recent and current projects include evaluating the effects of prescription drug monitoring programs and other state and federal opioid prescription limitation laws on prescribing, overdose, and suicide outcomes; the relationship between cannabis legalization and opioid harms; and the association between mental health/substance abuse parity laws and health care costs and utilization. Haffajee also researches substance use disorder treatment access and barriers, particularly for vulnerable populations, and social determinants of substance use disorders. Other work normatively and empirically investigates public health litigation, including the evolution and outcomes of opioid litigation. Haffajee earned her law degree, masters in public health, and doctorate in health policy (concentrating in evaluative sciences and statistics) from Harvard University. She also formerly practiced as a health care associate at the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP.

Selected Publications

Haffajee RL, Mello MM, Zhang F, Zaslavsky AM, Larochelle MR, Wharam JF. , "Four states with robust prescription drug monitoring programs reduced opioid dosages," Health Affairs, 37(6), 2018

Haffajee RL, Mello MM, "Drug companies’ liability for the opioid epidemic," New England Journal of Medicine, 377(24), 2017

Haffajee RL, Lin LA, Bohnert ASB, Goldstick JE, "Characteristics of U.S. counties with high opioid overdose mortality and low capacity to deliver medications for opioid use disorder," JAMA Network Open, 2(6), 2019

Mauri AM, Townsend T, Haffajee RL, "Scoping review of the impacts of state-level interventions to address opioid misuse and overdose," Milbank Quarterly, 2020 (forthcoming)

Haffajee RL, Jena AB, Weiner SG, " Mandatory use of prescription drug monitoring programs," JAMA, 371(11), 2015

Haffajee RL, Mello MM, Zhang F, Busch AB, Zaslavsky AM, Wharam JF. , "Association of federal mental health parity legislation with health care use and spending among high utilizers of services," Medical Care, 57(4), 2019

Haffajee RL, Bohnert ASB, Lagisetty PA, "Policy pathways to address workforce barriers to buprenorphine treatment," American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 54(6), 2018

Boehnke KF, Gangopadhyay S, Clauw DJ, Haffajee RL, "Qualifying conditions of medical cannabis license holders in the United States," Health Affairs, 38(2), 2019

Honors & Awards

  • 2017 Outstanding Dissertation Award, AcademyHealth
  • 2018 Theodore R. LeBlang Distinguished Lectureship in Law & Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • 2015 Joan P. Curhan Citizenship Award, PhD Program in Health Policy, Harvard University


  • A man puts concentrated oil into a vaporizer cartridge at the Magnolia cannabis vape lounge in Oakland, California, April 20, 2018, photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

    Beyond Bans: How Cannabis Policy Reform Can Reduce Vaping-Related Illnesses

    Policymakers can wield a multitude of tools to address vaping-related illness. Cannabis policy reform is one option. But policymakers may face challenges in balancing comprehensive regulatory design that promotes product safety with its potential to bolster the illegal and unregulated market.

    Mar 27, 2020 Health Affairs Blog

  • Pill bottle with pills spilled out of it, photo by Moussa81/Getty Images

    Where Science Says to Spend Any U.S. Opioid Settlement Money

    A global settlement with pharmaceutical companies has started to appear more and more likely. Even with billions of dollars, the settlement resources won't be unlimited. To avoid mistakes made in the tobacco master settlement agreement, any opioid funds must be carefully allocated.

    Dec 19, 2019 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette