A Federal judge has blocked a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule that would have required drug manufacturers to reveal their drug retail prices. The rule required drug manufacturers to make this disclosure on all of their television ads. This regulation was set to take effect yesterday, July 9, 2019.
Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled late Monday that HHS overstepped its authority in issuing the drug transparency rule. According to Judge Mehta, only Congress can authorize such a requirement through legislation. The Judge, in his ruling, stated that Congress must authorize such a policy and that no matter the hardship of escalating drug prices, HHS has no authorization.
Specifically, the HHS rule would require drug-makers to state in their direct-to-consumer advertisements the list price of any drug that is covered by Medicare and Medicaid and costs at least $35 a month.
Federal Judge: Bad Ruling, Says AARP
AARP, a leading consumer advocate for full transparency of retail drug prices was very disappointed with this ruling. “Drug list prices have been shrouded in secrecy for too long,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said in a statement. She expressed the organization’s disappointment over the court ruling. “Today’s ruling is a step backward in the battle against skyrocketing drug prices and providing more information to consumers.”
The lawsuit against the transparency rule was brought by three drugmakers — Merck, Eli Lilly and Amgen. Therefore, millions of Americans are now prevented from seeing the retail costs of the drugs advertised on TV.
The Affect Of High Drug Prices On Consumers
High drug prices “disproportionately hurt older Americans, particularly Medicare Part D enrollees. “They take an average of 4.5 prescription medications each month,” LeaMond says. “Most Medicare beneficiaries live on fixed incomes, with a median annual income of just over $26,000.”
AARP is a leading advocate in the fight to lower prescription drug prices. They want drug companies to disclose how they calculate their retail pricing. Providing transparency on prescription drug prices is one solution AARP has advocated to lower the runaway costs of medications.
This spring, AARP launched its Stop Rx Greed campaign to push federal and state lawmakers to lower drug prices.
HHS officials will now work with the Department of Justice on the next steps in the litigation.