Friday, April 1, 2011

SCOTUS Decision in Astra USA v. Santa Clara County

This week the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Astra USA, Inc. v. Santa Clara County (covered earlier here). Justice Ginsburg’s opinion begins:

Section 340B of the Public Health Services Act imposes ceilings on prices drug manufacturers may charge for medications sold to specified health care facilities. Those facilities, here called “340B” or “covered” entities, include public hospitals and community health centers, many of them providers of safety-net services to the poor. . . . It is conceded that Congress authorized no private right of action under §340B for covered entities who claim they have been charged prices exceeding the statutory ceiling. This case presents the question whether 340B entities, though accorded no right to sue for overcharges under the statute itself, may nonetheless sue allegedly overcharging manufacturers as third-party beneficiaries of the PPAs to which the manufacturers subscribed. We hold that suits by 340B entities to enforce ceiling-price contracts running between drug manufacturers and the Secretary of HHS are incompatible with the statutory regime.


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