Judge: Maryland can act against drug price-gouging
Landmark law targeting generic drug makers to take effect Sunday.
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.