Supreme Court Rules That States Cannot Violate Interstate Commerce to Regulate Drug Prices

Feb 22, 2019 | Drug Pricing, Supreme Court

Reuters reports that the Supreme Court rules against hearing an appeal from 2018 federal appeals ruling against a Maryland law seeking to prevent drug manufacturers from price gouging. If the law were to have passed, states would have had the opportunity to lower prescription costs. The appellate court rules that the Maryland law violated the U.S. Constitution’s band on state-level regulation of interstate commerce by regulating wholesale pricing by pharma. The ruling could have sweeping implications for not only individual states’ efforts to regulate drug prices, but also for other public safety and consumer regulatory initiatives.

The Maryland law was a result of growing anger on the part of consumers over escalating drug prices. As Reuters reported, a perceived lack of federal action led to state level laws, promulgated to regulate and drive down prices. The appellate court ruled the law unconstitutional and the Supreme Court affirmed by refusing to hear the case.

The ultimate regulator of drug prices will be the market place. Consumers must empower themselves, their loved ones and their friends with knowledge. An educated and informed citizenry will pressure physicians and the healthcare system to make more rational choices including how they negotiate and procure drugs.  Our hybrid-based legal system—a combination of English Common Law and Civil Code-based law—can bend, but when it comes to drug prices it will be rigid. That dynamic will arise from other actions.


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