State’s drug price-gouging law still legal

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — An effort by drug makers to block Maryland’s first-in-the-nation law against pharmaceutical price gouging was denied by a federal judge on Friday.

A group representing makers of generic prescription drugs sought to stop the law from taking effect this Sunday, calling it an “unconstitutional overreach” that will create market instability.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis denied the request by the Association for Accessible Medicines for an injunction as its lawsuit proceeds. He is allowing litigation to move forward on the association’s contention that the law is vague, but dismissed its other arguments.

Garbis wrote that the association has not persuaded him that the law “is substantially likely to be held unconstitutional.”

“Moreover, the court finds that an erroneous grant of a preliminary injunction would cause substantial harm by permitting the sale of essential drugs to Maryland residents at unconscionable prices,” Garbis wrote.

On the vagueness argument, Garbis wrote: “The Court recognizes that there are reasonable — though not necessarily prevailing — contentions asserted by the Plaintiff.”

Jeff Francer, senior vice president and general counsel for AAM, said the organization plans to immediately appeal to the 4th U.S. District Court of Appeals. He said the association is confident Supreme Court and appeals court precedent “clearly restrict states from directly regulating wholly out-of-state commercial activity,” as the Maryland law does.

“As AAM has stated from the outset, this law will hurt patient access to safe, affordable generic medicines in Maryland and the rest of the U.S., and will create untenable uncertainty for generic drug makers who may be left with no choice but to abandon markets altogether,” Francer said.