NJ Federal Judge Skeptical of Pharma’s Challenge to IRA Drug Price Negotiations

Pictured: The inside of a federal courtroom/iStock

Pictured: The inside of a federal courtroom/iStock

mstroz/Getty Images

Judge Zahid Quraishi on Thursday appeared unconvinced by the pharmaceutical companies’ arguments that the Inflation Reduction Act’s Drug Price Negotiation Program violated the U.S. Constitution.

Pictured: Photo of a U.S. federal courtroom/iStock, mstroz

A New Jersey federal judge on Thursday did not appear to be swayed by arguments from four pharmaceutical companies claiming that the Inflation Reduction Act’s Drug Price Negotiation Program violates their constitutional rights.

Judge Zahid Quraishi was particularly doubtful about the companies’ position that the negotiation program amounted to an unconstitutional taking of their property, according to Law360. Meanwhile, Endpoints News reported that the judge also seemed unconvinced that the negotiations were not voluntary.

Thursday’s hearing was unusual. The court last week agreed to let four pharmaceutical companies—Bristol Myers Squibb, J&J’s Janssen, Novartis and Novo Nordisk—present their oral arguments against the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Drug Price Negotiation Program in one prolonged session.

The Thursday morning session included arguments from BMS, Janssen and Novartis, each of which contended that the IRA negotiation program constituted an unlawful taking of the companies’ property in violation of the Fifth Amendment. During the session, the companies also laid out arguments countering the voluntary nature of the program.

After a brief break, Novo and Novartis raised issues unique to their respective cases, such as Novo’s Separation of Powers and Due Process claims against the Medicare drug price negotiations. The afternoon session also heard First Amendment arguments against the IRA program.

Merith Basey, executive director of patient advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs in a statement said that the companies’ lawsuits against the drug negotiation program “would not only jeopardize access to vital medications for millions of Americans, but also squander the opportunity for close to $100 billion in savings for taxpayers.”

Thursday’s hearing comes after a Delaware court last week ruled against AstraZeneca, dismissing its due process claims against the IRA’s Drug Price Negotiation Program. U.S. District Judge Colm Connolly wrote in his decision that the pharma had “no legitimate claim of entitlement to sell its drugs to the Government at any price other than what the Government is willing to pay.”

AstraZeneca filed its legal complaint against the IRA program in August 2023 and sought summary judgement in the case a month later. While most lawsuits have focused on constitutional arguments, AstraZeneca took a different route and instead zeroed in on the logistics of its implementation.

There have been many legal challenges to the IRA’s Drug Price Negotiation Program, but none have been successful so far. Last month, a federal district judge in Texas dismissed the lawsuit from industry lobby group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America on the grounds of wrong venue.

In October 2023, another federal judge denied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the program, pointing out that the plaintiffs neither had a strong chance of succeeding nor evidence of irreparable harm.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.
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