Magazine article Drug Topics

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Rx Price Reduction Law in Maine

Magazine article Drug Topics

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Rx Price Reduction Law in Maine

Article excerpt

If patients are harmed by Maine's prior-authorization requirement, aimed at forcing drug manufactuners to give the state rebates, then the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) can return to court. But until then, Maine's closely watched prescription price reduction law stands, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

The three-judge panel also gave PhRMA another route to overturn the year-old, never-implemented law. If the state's "best efforts" to negotiate initial rebates that are at least equal to those the manufacturers provide Medicaid become "coercive or otherwise inappropriate," PhRMA can mount another legal challenge.

Marjorie Powell, PhRMA's assistant general counsel, expressed disappointment with the decision. She said prior authorization would put patients "at the back of the healthcare line when it comes to state-of-- the-art medicines." PhRMA has not yet decided on its legal options.

Maine Gov Angus King called the decision "great news for the 325,000 Maine people eligible" for the program. "We're talking about a 20% to 30% reduction in price to every citizen in Maine who's not covered by a drug program in their health insurance or in the Medicaid program."

Bernie Horn, policy director for the Center for Policy Alternatives, which has been working with state legislators to reduce Rx prices, said legislation similar to Maine's has been introduced in 27 states.

But Maine R.Ph.s aren't cheering, and their colleagues in copycat states probably shouldn't either. The rebates will go into a fund to reimburse pharmacies at average wholesale price (AWP) minus 6% plus a $3 filling fee and a $3. …

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