Judge: Mary­land can act against drug price-goug­ing

Land­mark law tar­get­ing generic drug mak­ers to take ef­fect Sun­day.

The Citizens' Voice - - Business - BY BRIAN WITTE

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — An ef­fort by drug­mak­ers to block Mary­land’s first-in-the-na­tion law against phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal price goug­ing was de­nied by a fed­eral judge on Fri­day.

A group rep­re­sent­ing mak­ers of generic pre­scrip­tion drugs sought to stop the law from tak­ing ef­fect this Sun­day, call­ing it an “un­con­sti­tu­tional over­reach” that will cre­ate mar­ket in­sta­bil­ity.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Gar­bis de­nied the re­quest by the As­so­ci­a­tion for Ac­ces­si­ble Medicines for an in­junc­tion as its law­suit pro­ceeds. He is al­low­ing lit­i­ga­tion to move for­ward on the as­so­ci­a­tion’s con­tention the law is vague, but dis­missed its other ar­gu­ments.

Gar­bis wrote that the as­so­ci­a­tion has not per­suaded him that the law “is sub­stan­tially likely to be held un­con­sti­tu­tional.”

“More­over, the court finds that an er­ro­neous grant of a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion would cause sub­stan­tial harm by per­mit­ting the sale of es­sen­tial drugs to Mary­land res­i­dents at un­con­scionable prices,” Gar­bis wrote.

Jeff Francer, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral coun­sel for AAM, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to ap­peal to the 4th U.S. District Court of Ap­peals. He said the as­so­ci­a­tion is con­fi­dent Supreme Court and ap­peals court prece­dent “clearly re­strict states from di­rectly reg­u­lat­ing wholly out-of­s­tate com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity,” as the Mary­land law does.

Mary­land At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian Frosh said he’s con­fi­dent the state will pre­vail. “We won this round big time,” Frosh said.

The Mary­land law is one of the strong­est moves yet by a state to ad­dress ris­ing drug prices, an is­sue Congress has been un­able to con­front.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral can use the law to sue mak­ers of off-patent or generic drugs that make an “un­con­scionable” price in­crease — de­scribed as an ex­ces­sive in­crease, un­jus­ti­fied by the cost of pro­duc­ing or dis­tribut­ing the drug.

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