HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, January 2, 2006

D.C.'s Drug Pricing Act Held Unconstitutional

From the Jan. 2 issue of AIS's Managed Care Week:

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Dec. 22 blocked Washington, D.C.’s Prescription Drugs Excessive Pricing Act. The law would have made it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to sell patented medicines at an excessive price, defined as 30% more than the prices in four other developed countries. In the case of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) v. District of Columbia, et al., Leon ruled that the act went against the will of Congress and violated constitutional protections of interstate commerce. D.C. Council member David Catania (I) had sponsored the bill, which the D.C. council passed unanimously and was signed by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D). Catania’s office said he “is eager to continue to press the issue” of controlling drug costs. Billy Tauzin, PhRMA president and CEO, said the organization was pleased with the judge’s ruling (news release here).

Opinion is here.  The D.C. ordinance is identified in the opinion as D.C. Act 16-174 in the opinion, but all I could find on-line was two versions of D.C. Act 16-114 and an unnumbered "Enrolled Original."  I am linking to the latter; this should give you at least an idea of what the law says.  And it is something of a disgrace that the D.C. City Council doesn't provide a legislative page that gives users easy access to the Council's session laws. Very few states have failed to meet this basic obligation of democratic governments . . . . [tm]

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