HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


There aren't many health-law cases pending this Term in the Supreme Court of the United States -- no ERISA blockbuster, for example, after three big cases in the past four years.  From my quick perusal of the case list at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, however, here's the run-down on what's still on the docket, along with some hopefully helpful links.

Docket Number Case Name Oral Argument Lower Court Question Presented
03-1237 Merck KGaA v. Integra Lifesciences I, Ltd., et al. April 20, 2005 Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (June 6, 2003) Drugs, patents: Did the Federal Circuit err in concluding that the drug-research safe harbor (which Congress incorporated into federal patent laws in 1984 to encourage development and expedite introduction of pharmaceuticals and to insulate drug research from charges of infringement so long as the research is "reasonably related to the development and submission of information" to the Food and Drug Administration) does not protect animal studies of the sort that are essential to the development of new drugs, where the research will be presented to the FDA, and where barring the research until expiration of the patent could mean years of delay in the availability of life-saving new drugs?
03-1454 Ashcroft, John, Atty. Gen., et al. v. Raich, Angel McClary, et al.  Nov. 29, 2004 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Dec. 16, 2003) Medicinal marijuana: Whether the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., exceeds Congress's power under the Commerce Clause as applied to the intrastate cultivation and possession of marijuana for purported personal "medicinal" use or to the distribution of marijuana without charge for such use?
04-623 Gonzales, Alberto, Atty. Gen., et al. v. Oregon, et al. 2005-06 term 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (May 26, 2004) Physician-assisted suicide: Whether the Attorney General has permissibly construed the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., and its implementing regulations to prohibit the distribution of federally controlled substances for the purpose of facilitating an individual's suicide, regardless of a state law purporting to authorize such distribution?
04-1084 Gonzales, Alberto (US Atty Gen.) v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal, et al. 2005-06 term 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (Nov. 12, 2004) (en banc) Public health, Sacramental hoasca, Religious Freedom Restoration Act:  Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq., requires the government to permit the importation, distribution, possession, and use of a Schedule I hallucinogenic controlled substance, where Congress has found that the substance has a high potential for abuse, it is unsafe for use even under medical supervision, and its importation and distribution would violate an international treaty?


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