Judge Blocks Maine’s Prescription Drug Pricing Law
Marking a "clear victory" for the pharmaceutical industry, U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby on Oct. 26 issued a preliminary injunction against Maine's "pioneering" prescription drug law, the Wall Street Journal reports. Enacted in May, the Maine Rx Program would have allowed the government to negotiate lower medicine prices for Maine residents who lack prescription drug coverage. Drug companies found guilty of overcharging for drugs or restricting supplies would have incurred fines. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America filed a lawsuit in August, arguing that the law was unconstitutional because it regulated out-of-state commerce and "conflict[ed] with federal Medicaid law." Agreeing with the pharmaceutical industry's challenge, Hornby said, "The state has a strong interest in assisting its economically and medically needy citizens, but not through unconstitutional legislation." PhRMA President Alan Holmer said, "PhRMA is pleased that the court recognized the need to prevent the state from moving ahead with its planned implementation of an unconstitutional price-control statute. ... We hope that the Maine Legislature will consider some of the available market-based approaches to addressing the needs of seniors and other individuals." Noting that he was "disappointed" with the ruling, Maine Attorney General Andrew Ketterer (D) said, "Our legislature had the wisdom to try to act in an area where the Congress was either unable or unwilling to act. When you have bold legislation like this, there are sometimes setbacks." He added that the state would "analyze whether or not ... to take an appeal." The Wall Street Journal reports that the ruling likely will have a "chilling effect" on other states considering similar measures (Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, 10/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.