- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2019

A federal judge in the District of Columbia has struck down President Trump’s efforts to rein in prescription-drug prices, ruling that federal bureaucrats cannot require companies to disclose their prices in TV ads.

The Department of Health and Human Services rule had been slated to take effect Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, an appointee of President Barack Obama, vacated the rule, saying the agency had overstepped its regulatory powers.

“No matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized,” Judge Mehta wrote. “The responsibility rests with Congress to act in the first instance.”

According to CNN, Eli Lilly, which brought the lawsuit last month along with Amgen and the Association of National Advertisers, said in a statement at the time that the rule would mislead patients about how much they have to pay for medication.

“The impetus for the lawsuit is drug prices in TV ads, but the crux of it is HHS not having the authority to mandate this action,” Eli Lilly said. “Not only does the rule exceed the department’s statutory authority and raise freedom of speech concerns, the focus on a medicine’s list price creates confusion because it’s not the price most patients will pay.”

The Health and Human Services Department said it was “disappointed” with the ruling and will consult with the Justice Department on the next steps.

“Although we are not surprised by the objections to transparency from certain special interests, putting drug prices in ads is a useful way to put patients in control and lower costs, and as seen from the president’s executive order, we are working on many different avenues for delivering transparency,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said.

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