Group says Maryland law addressing pharmaceutical pricing is unconstitutional

Passed in June, the Maryland law is scheduled to take effect in October.
Passed in June, the Maryland law is scheduled to take effect in October. | File photo

Generic drug makers insist they attempted to work with state legislators in Maryland to carve out a bill to curb "price gouging," but they ignored the advice and passed an unconstitutional law, according to an industry group.

A federal court has been asked to issue an injunction against the introduction of the law, which includes penalties for generic and biosimilar drug makers if they make "unconscionable" price increases.

The law is unconstitutional as it allows the state to regulate the national pharmaceutical market in an unprecedented way and is discriminatory as it does include brand name drugs, argues the Association of Accessible Medicines (AAM), which filed the lawsuit.

"It favors brands," Allen Goldberg, an AAM spokesman told American Pharmacy News. The association argues it is intended to lower drug prices, yet favors big Pharma.

"They (legislators) put together a bill starting with good intentions but got sidetracked by politics," Goldberg said. "We tried to work with the state to provide input how to make the legislation (now law) clearer and constitutional and more patient focused. They disregarded our input, but when the law is found unconstitutional by the courts, we’re ready to try again."

The association claims patients with access to generic drugs saved the state $4.1 billion last year. Other states have eyed the Maryland law. Oregon drafted similar legislation but abandoned the bill, Goldberg said.

Supporters of the bill believe it will help cut "price gouging," and act as a spur to national politicians to act.

“When a drug company doubles or triples or multiplies by 50 the price of medication, it imperils the health and finances of patients and their families, and it threatens public health,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said. 

Passed in June, the law is scheduled to take effect in October.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who refused to sign the bill, questioned why brand name drugs were not included, adding that this “oversight, whether inadvertent or deliberate, is troubling, since the patented or brand-name pharmaceuticals make up a significant amount of the market and are often times the most expensive essential pharmaceuticals."

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Association for Accessible Medicines 777 6th Street Northwest Washington, DC - 20001