Archive for the ‘advocacy’ Category
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
TAKE ACTION FOR LOWER DRUG COSTS! HELP SPREAD THE WORD
Consumer Catalyst has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness about how sketchy ‘Pay-for-Delay’ deals hurt consumer health! Join the discussion on twitter and share your story, using the hashtag:
Stop the #RxRacket!
Pharmaceutical companies are colluding to keep drug prices high – and taking that money right out of your pocket.
Did you know drug companies have made more than 160 secret, back-room deals that
- Have kept 100 generic drugs or more off the market for years
- Drive up the cost of each drug by an average of $3,000 a year
- Keep all of our prescription costs high, while divvying up the spoils!
Right now, the Supreme Court is currently deliberating over whether these back-room deals are legal – but we know they’re wrong. Since 2005, as many as 142 different generic drugs have been unfairly kept from consumers, according to government reports. Delaying the launch of a generic drug lets the drug companies make bigger and bigger profits, while patients are stuck footing the bill, or going without the medicines they need.
The Supreme Court heard arguments by the drug companies, and fortunately Justices Kagan and Sotomayor raised consumer concerns – but the Court did not hear the perspective of the thousands of Americans unable to afford their medications. That’s because most people don’t even know that these deals are costing consumers thousands, and our health system billions of extra dollars, each year!
Help us raise awareness of this #RxRacket. The public deserves to know how this decision will affect us all – how thousands of Americans are being forced to choose between skipping their medications or going into credit card debt, just so that drug companies can make even more profit. Not to mention, how health care costs for everyone have gone up, because insurers pay most of these higher costs!
Whatever the Supreme Court decides, help spread the word, so we can help make sure that these deals come to an end, once and for all.
If you have taken Cipro, Provigil, or Androgel, you have definitely paid more because of a pay-for-delay settlement. And according to legal experts, it is very probable that many drugs including blockbuster drugs like Lipitor, Plavix and Nexium — have been delayed by pay-for-delay deals.*
We need you to tell everyone you know that this is happening, and help gather and share the stories of people you know that have been negatively impacted.
What you can do:
- Read the stories shared by two women, Tanna and Karen, who were unable to afford their medications due to pay-for-delay deals that kept generic Provigil off the market for six years. Also, read how the companies’ legal arguments make no sense.
- Share these posts on Twitter, using the hashtag #RxRacket, and ask others to share their stories too. And follow us at @postscriptrx.
- Join our community on Facebook to keep up with the campaign and join our email list of impacted consumers by sharing your story.
You can find all the information you would ever need about this issue on our Pay-for-Delay info page. Please also feel free to add your thoughts on this #RxRacket in the comments, below.
Thank you for helping us protect your right to affordable medicine!
*The Full List – Drugs Likely to Have High Prices from ‘Pay-for-Delay’ Deals:
Adderall XR, Aggrenox, Altace, Arthrotec, Caduet, Carbatrol, Clarinex, Comtan, Duac, Effexor XR, Eloxatin, Ethyol, Femcon Fe, Fentora, Flomax, Lipitor, Lamictal, Levaquin, Lexapro, Loestrin-24 Fe, Loprox, Lotrel, Lybrel, Namenda, Naprelan, Nexium, Niaspan, Niravam, Olux, Opana ER, Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo, Oxytrol, Plavix, Propecia, Razadyne, Razadyne ER, Rythmol SR, Sinemet CR, Skelaxin, Solodyn, Stalevo, Tricor 145mg, Vanos, Vfend, Wellbutrin XL (150 mg), Xopenex, and Zantac!
Friday, May 28th, 2010
A surprising decision in the Second Circuit has breathed new life into legal efforts to prevent drug makers from paying to keep generics off the market.
Since 2005, the drug industry has increasingly used multi-million dollar ‘pay-for-delay’ settlements to prevent generic drugs from coming to the market. The PAL coalition has opposed this industry collusion with lawsuits on Provigil, Tamoxifen, and Cipro, and through our support for legislation (introduced by Rep. Rush and Sen. Kohl). The FTC has also been a steadfast opponent of these anti-competitive agreements and their negative impacts on consumers. Unfortunately, the ability of FTC or PAL members to challenge these settlements in the courts has been hampered by a number of unfavorable legal decisions.
The Second Circuit’s Cipro Decision
The Second Circuit’s April 29th ruling did dismiss the challenge to the ‘pay-for-delay’ settlements totaling $398 million that have prevented a generic version of Cipro from coming to the market. But the Court did so begrudgingly, and then invited the folks bringing the lawsuit to ask the Second Circuit to revisit the question of whether these settlements are legal under anti-trust protections. Even more surprising, the Court then spelled out why.
In their decision, the three judge panel stated that a review of the binding precedent established under Tamoxifen by the full nine-judge panel for the Second Circuit (called an ‘en banc review’) may be appropriate for four reasons: First, the Court said that United States Department of Justice has urged a review of this decision saying that “Tamoxifen adopted an improper standard that fails to subject reverse exclusionary payment settlements to appropriate antitrust scrutiny.” Second, the Court found that “there is evidence that the practice of entering into reverse exclusionary payment settlements has increased since we decided Tamoxifen.” Third, the panel stated that “after Tamoxifenwas decided, a principal drafter of the Hatch-Waxman Act criticized the settlement practice at issue.” Finally, the Court noted that the Tamoxifen decision was based in no small part on the now erroneous understanding that a pay-for-delay settlement with the first generic competitor would not prevent other generic competitors from attempting to followand file suit.
The 2005 Tamoxifen decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers New York, Vermont, Connecticut) dismissed an FTC order challenging a pay-for-delay settlement. The Tamoxifen Court ruled the practice legal under anti-trust law, because the settlement provided drug maker AstraZeneca with no more protection from generic competition than their patent already did.
This Tamoxifen decision, along with the Eleventh Circuit’s Schering-Plough decision in 2005, and Federal Circuit’s 2008 Cipro decision, have been mounting obstacles to consumer and FTC efforts to oppose these settlements. Only the Sixth Circuit, in its 2002 Cardizem decision, has held that such agreements to “eliminate competition” are a “per se illegal restraint on trade.”
When the Appeals Courts from different US Circuits arrive at differing legal standards, the US Supreme Court should resolve this inconsistency, or ‘split’ between the Courts. Indeed, the PAL-member lawsuits concerning Cipro and Tamoxifen asked the Supreme Court to do just that, as has the FTC. So far, all of these requests have been denied. But a possible reversal in the Second Circuit might change things.
Consumers, legal and medical experts, and the Administration all file briefs in opposition to continued legality of pay-for-delay settlements
Amicus briefs in support of the request for a reconsideration of the Tamoxifen standard were filed by PAL and PAL coalition member AFSCME DC37; AARP, AMA, and the Public Patent Foundation; Consumers Union, US Pirg, Consumer Federation of America, and the National Legislative Associaton on Prescription Drug Prices. Also filing briefs were the American Antitrust Institute, the FTC, and the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trust division.
The amicus brief for the Department of Justice argues that ”by shielding most private reverse settlement agreements from antitrust liability, the Tamoxifen standard improperly undermines the balance Congress struck in the Patent Act between the public interest in encouraging innovation and the public interest in competition.”
The amicus brief from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) added three additional reasons to those stated by the Second Circuit panel. FTC argued that the Tamoxifen standard gives drug companies an improper incentive to pay off generic drug manufacturers and protect even the weakest patents.
Next, FTC noted that the number of pay-for-delay settlements had grown since 2005, to now insulate “at least $20 billion in sales of branded drugs from generic competition.”
The FTC estimates (very conservatively in our opinion) that these settlements will continue to cost $3.5 billion a year by delaying competition from lower-priced generics, but warned that these costs may grow.
The amicus brief submitted by PAL and PAL member AFSCME District Council 37pointed out that these settlements have cost consumers and health plans $12 billion or more each year in lost savings on generic drugs, and the costs are likely to increase as brand-name drug prices go up (as they did by 9.2 % in the year ending on March 31, 2010) while generic drug prices decline (as they did by 9.7 % during this time period.) Aside from the effect that higher costs have on reducing access to needed medicines, PAL pointed out how these settlements threaten to reduce the quality of care for consumers by limiting the drug options available to them. PAL pointed out that consumers of the drug Provigil, which is protected from generic competition by a pay-for-delay settlement, end up entering the donut hole faster and paying huge sums out of pocket when their health plans refuse to cover the drug due to its high cost.
AARP, the AMA, and the Public Patent Foundation filed a brief arguing that these settlements threaten our health care system because they undermine consumer access to generic drugs, which have, on the whole, “saved consumers over $734 billion in the last 10 years.” AARP noted that “[e]ven for those patients who are insured but who are on fixed or limited incomes, having a generic option is often the difference between having access to health care treatment and not having any treatment option at all.”
AARP’s brief warned that the Tamoxifen precedent will have long-term negative consequences on the well being of consumers because “when a generic pharmaceutical’s entry into the market is delayed, it limits treatment access to vulnerable patient populations and prolongs the difficulty that physicians have in prescribing affordable treatment options.”
An amicus brief filed by Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, U.S. PIRG and National Legislative Association of Prescription Drug Prices pointed out that the Tamoxifen decision allows the pay-for-delay settlements that “prevents patent challenges” which is contrary to the purpose of the Hatch-Waxman Act to “encourage patent challenges…..”
The American Antitrust Institute filed an amicus brief highlighting the anticompetitive nature of these settlements, and the Attorney Generals from 34 States filed an amicus noting that “the Cipro case is also of exceptional importance because the United States Supreme Court has refused to review the split between the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits.”
Industry use of these pay-for-delay settlements has driven up costs and prevented access to needed medicines for millions of consumers. This industry practice has prevented or delayed generic versions of the drugs Cipro, Provigil, Androgel, and many other drugs that amount to $20 billion of our nation’s current $278 billion in drug spending, according to the FTC.
PAL, Community Catalyst, and dozens of PAL coalition members have opposed these settlements through lawsuits and legislative advocacy. Please contact us if you would like to join in our work to oppose these anti-competitive settlements.
— by Emily Cutrell and Wells Wilkinson
Friday, December 11th, 2009
This past Tuesday, PhRMA was before Congress. Not lobbying to block price negotiations or generic competitors, but attending a hearing in their honor (click here for details of the hearing). Chairman Henry Waxman, of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has called upon PhRMA to explain their recent price increases exposed by AARP mid-November in its Rx Watchdog Report.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Rep. Waxman put the price increase in perspective. He said:
Our nation is trying to recover from the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The Consumer Price Index has actually dropped over the last year. Social Security checks will remain stagnant. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their health insurance.
Yet, the brand-name prescription drug industry raised prices by more than 9% over the last year.
Rep. Waxman also noted that the health reform bill passed by the House last month will both provide insurance coverage to “36 million citizens who would otherwise be without it” but he cautioned legislators must not “write the pharmaceutical industry a blank check as we reform the health care system.”
Rep. Waxman also praised the approach under the House bill:
The House health care reform bill strikes an important balance that puts consumers and taxpayers first. In return for the billions of dollars in new market opportunities, we require that the drug industry provide additional discounts for the Medicaid program. And we end the multi-billion dollar windfall that the industry received when dual-eligible enrollees were switched from Medicaid to Medicare Part D drug coverage.
The House bill uses the money raised from these industry concessions to help millions of Americans afford health care coverage and to close the Part D donut hole.
At the hearing, Kathleen Stoll, Deputy Executive Director, Director of Health Policy at Families USA, testified that: “In recent years, Americans have spent a significantly larger amount on prescription drugs. In fact, total spending on prescription drugs in the United States nearly doubled between 2000 and 2007, rising from $120.6 billion to $227.5 billion.”
Ms. Stoll praised the House health care reform bill, noting that it would improve access to prescription drugs by requiring coverage for drugs in all health plans sold in the individual market, and by eliminating annual and lifetime caps on benefits, and capping out-of-pocket costs.
The chair of the board of AARP, Bonnie Cramer, also testified about the effect of rising drug prices on AARP members, seniors, and other consumers. She noted the costly impact of rising drug prices on government spending for subsidized seniors under Medicare Part D, and for seniors or others on Medicare Part B. Her testimony noted that the specialty, or biologic drugs covered under Part B are the biggest current drug cost. for the program’s entire $17 billion spend on drugs in 2007.
The top six biologics represented $7 billion of the total [$17 billion in Part B drug costs in 2007], or 43 percent of all Part B drug spending. To put this in context, Medicare Part B spending for one biologic drug – Epoetin alfa – in 2007 ($2.6 billion) was greater than FDA’s , with over 10,000 employees, entire FY2008 budget (2.3 billion).
Ms. Cramer also voiced concerns for the “millions of Americans … that fall into the donut hole each year.” And she noted that the number of part D plans charging 33% co-insurance for the very high priced specialty drugs has risen from only four of the nearly national plans to “more than half” of the Part D plans today. This means that drug price increases are felt directly by the patient. Ms. Cramer put this in perspective as follows:
… rheumatoid arthritis medicines such as Enbrel and Humira averaged $1,633 per prescription in 2008. The average cost of a multiple sclerosis drug was $2,006. At 33 percent coinsurance, enrollees cost would exceed $500 per prescription. Most patients with either of these conditions filled at least eight such prescriptions in 2008.
The AARP report revealed the shocking price increase of 9.3 % for brand-name drugs, 10.3% for specialty drugs. This is contrasted to the 7.8% decrease in the price of generic drugs during the same 12-month period ending September 30, 2009. The report notes that all but one of the top 25 selling brand name drugs used by Medicare Part D plans rose from between 4.8% and 19.7%, and all but two of the top 25 specialty drugs also rose in cost, some by as much as 28.2%. Ten of these best-selling specialty drugs rose by more than 12%. This is happening at a time when the economic recession had driven the prices of most other goods and services down.
The New York Times covered the reports release, and noted that the drug industry’s own major consulting firm, IMS Health, reversed their earlier market prediction of a 1% declines in sales for 2009, and now predicts a 4.5% growth in drug sales. This means $21 billion in added drug costs in 2009, a windfall profit for the industry as the rest of the country grapples with record unemployment and ongoing recession.
Impacts of the price increase:
The new price increases have reversed the trend and produced two results — an immediate profit increase for 2009-2010; and a significantly higher base price for their future revenues once the approximately 30 million newly insured customers are added through the passage of health reform. Drug companies set the price for the drugs they sell, and can raise or lower them at any time. Additionally, the companies offer rebates and other discounts based on their price to different insurers, state Medicaid agencies and federal agencies. The higher the base price, the more leverage for the drug company in negotiating with purchasers. The result of this market manipulation is an approximately $120 Billion profit.
PhRMA appears to have gone back on their deal by changing the prices so radically and shifting an $80 Billion loss into a $120 Billion profit-grab. PhRMA has been one of the most vocal supporters of health reform—they should be given that they have literally billions to gain if the law passes. Drug industry ads in support of reform, rather than in opposition, have been a welcomed on Capitol hill. But the good will PhRMA generated supporting reform may have been shaken by the recent price increase.
This profiteering has caught the attention of Congress. The House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on Health is investigating this price increase, presumably with an eye towards strengthening the drug cost containment measures in the health reform bill. Up until now, many drug cost containment initiatives have been off-limits due to the ‘PhRMA deal’. PhRMA made a deal with President Obama and some Congressional leaders last Spring that was to provide $80 billion in drug savings over the next 10 years, mainly through discounts to brand name drugs in the Medicare D doughnut hole.. In exchange, they would support health reform. One of the biggest potential areas for savings that was declared off-limits by industry is the ability for Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Even Senator Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, and brokered the deal with Pharma on behalf of the Senate, has said that the total amount in future saving legislators will require from Pharma is “still in discussion.”
Tuesday’s Congressional hearings may help influence the current Senate debate, and the negotiations in the conference process (which would reconcile the differences between the legislation passed by the House and any future Senate bill.) We hope our Congressional leaders will see the stark reality exposed by the AARP Watchdog Report – that Pharma’s control of drug prices makes their proffered discounts illusory and holds us all hostage to their profiteering.
Friday, October 16th, 2009
On October 15th, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted out S. 369 (here is the bill), the ban on pay-for-delay settlements between brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers and generic-drug companies. The purpose and result of these settlements is that the generic drugs come to market later. This means that patients and insurers must wait to have access to the drugs they need at the much lower generic price. This bill would pave the way for cost savings, since generic drugs would come to market faster. The FTC has estimated the savings at $35 billion to consumers and $12 million to the federal government over ten years.
The House and the Senate each have a bill on this issue, but they differ slightly in terms of enforcement of the ban. The Senate version of the bill says that the agreements would be presumed illegal. However, the FTC would need to pursue legal action to challenge this agreement. The drug companies would then have the opportunity to go to court and argue that the agreement is ‘pro-competitive’. If the FTC wins the court case, they would have the authority to assess significant civil penalties on the drug companies.
The House version of this bill (here is the House version) is attached to the tri-committee health reform bill and came out of Energy and Commerce. The ban in the House modifies Section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and puts enforcement directly in the hands of the FTC. This amendment does not provide for rebuttal by the parties in court, but instead would allow the FTC to exempt agreements where the value of the payments to the generic drug company do not exceed certain thresholds.
Both the Senate and the House versions include some parameters for the FTC to utilize when making their decisions about to enforce the ban on drug companies. The House language leaves the exception determinations to the FTC to resolve, while the Senate version specifically calls for judicial review in the D.C. Circuit Court.
This Senate version of the bill now moves to the full Senate.
Friday, August 14th, 2009
The White House, in its efforts to line up industry support for health reform, announced an agreement this spring with the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to discount senior drug costs and save $80 billion over the next decade. PhRMA has announced that it will finance new ads in support of health reform—it has helped advocates like Families USA with previous ad campaigns. However, with House leaders now proposing to go further in reining in excessive drug costs, there is speculation that PhRMA might pull its support if the House drives too hard a bargain. But PhRMA should be supporting health reform—it’s not only good for the country, but good for the industry when more patients are insured and become new customers for their products.
While details are scant, a recently leaked memo describes the deal as including: $25 billion in savings through a half-price discount for seniors buying brand name drugs in the ‘donut hole’ under Medicare Part-D; $34 billion in increased rebates under Medicaid; $12 billion through an industry fee or tax, and some $9 billion in savings on biologics. Any mechanisms to ensure oversight and reliable pre-discount drug pricing are not clear.
Controversy has now erupted, however, over drug pricing issues that affect the cost of health reform. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that “the House was not bound by any industry deals with the Senate or the White House.” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) also said that the House would not be obligated to abide by the agreement. On July 31st House democrats added new drug provisions in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce mark-up of its bill, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, H.R. 3200.
H.R. 3200 includes an amendment introduced by Representative Schakowsky (D-IL) which allows the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of senior citizens and persons with disabilities covered under Medicare Part D. PhRMA quickly cried ‘foul’ and claimed that part of their deal was the administration’s promise to not pursue any other cost-cutting proposals. They claimed that Schakowsky’s amendment would be a ‘deal breaker.’ But proponents are quick to point out that the potential savings for consumers and government payors are significant, and could easily exceed the PhRMA deal’s $80 billion over-ten-years.
In the days following the release of H.R. 3200, the White House seems to have pulled back on its previous description of the agreement with PhaRMA. Huffington Post $8 million in annual savings on a yearly drug tab in excess of over $200 billion nationwide seems to leave a lot on the table that we hope will be up for negotiation over the course of hammering out a final health care agreement.
Another important provision in the House health care reform bill was a successful amendment by Rep. Rush (D-IL) would prohibit the ‘pay-for-delay’ settlements that drug manufacturers have used to keep generic competitors off the market. (See more info here). Thees anti-competitive agreements, also called reverse payment settlements, have kept generic versions of several drugs off the market since 2005. The FTC conservatively estimates that banning such ‘pay-for-delay’ or ‘reverse-payment’ settlements would save $35 billion dollars over the next decade.
In addition Rep. Baldwin (D-WI) successfully introduced an amendment that wouldrequire the disclosure of financial relationships between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and drug manufacturers. PBMs manage insurers’ prescription drug benefits, including creating formularies of preferred medicines, negotiating discounts with drug manufacturers, and negotiating reimbursement rates with retail pharmacies that fill prescriptions. Under Rep. Baldwin’s amendment, all PBMs must provide, to both their client health plans and to the federal government, a confidential annual accounting of all payments and rebates they receive from drug manufacturers in relation to the prescriptions filled. In addition, the PBM must report, in aggregate, how much they paid pharmacists to fill all prescriptions.
These two classes of information are essential for health plans to ensure that their formularies are designed to lower costs and not to maximize rebates often alleged to be retained by the PBM. It would help ensure that the conflict of interest that PBMs face is not working against the fundamental purpose of PBMs to manage formularies that reduce costs. Similar disclosure provisions have been enacted under state law in Maine and the District of Columbia even withstanding legal challenges. Maryland, Iowa, South Dakota, and Vermont have also enacted state PBM reform measures. In South Dakota, the state saved more than $800,000 on health insurance costs in one year after enacting its law. Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas have also taken steps towards PBM transparency. For example, through an audit of the PBM which manages the state employee health program, Arkansas discovered that in a three-month period, the state was overcharged by nearly $500,000. The experience of these states demonstrates that increased PBM transparency has the potential to yield significant savings for public and private insurers.
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
Today, the Supreme Court rejected arguments by the prescription drug industry that having their labels approved by the Food and Drug Administration should be a shield from state law tort liability. In a rousing victory for consumers of prescription drugs, the Supreme Court rendered a decision preserving consumer rights to access the courts when injured physically or financially by prescription drugs.
In the case Wyeth v. Levine, the Court ruled 6 to 3 that the FDA’s approval of a drug label does not preempt consumer’s rights to sue the manufacturer for their failure to warn of knows risks associated with the drug.
The lawsuit was brought by Diane Levine, a musician from Vermont who while suffering from a migraine was given the anti-nausea drug Phenergan. Her physician’s assistant did so in a manner that caused the drug to contact her arteries, which caused gangrene and resulted in the loss of her arm. Ms. Levine sued and settled with her doctor. She also sued the drug’s Manufacturer, Wyeth. In its defense, Wyeth argued that the FDA’s approval of the label under federal law preempted Ms. Levine’s rights under state law, but lost. After a 5-day trial, a Vermont jury concluded that the drug maker did not adequately warn of the known risks of gangrene associated with the use of the drug, and awarded Ms. Levine $7.4 million.
After losing in appeals all the way up to Vermont’s Supreme Court, Phenergran’s manufacturer, Wyeth appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court accepted the case, and addressed the issue
whether federal law preempts Levine’s claim that Phenergan’s label did not contain an adequate warning about using the IV-push method of administration.
In today’s decision, the Court decided that there was no preemption, and found in favor of Ms. Levine.
The Court first noted that it was not impossible for the drug maker to comply with both state law and federal requirements in preparing the drug’s label. The court concluded that the drug maker could have added warnings to the label at any time to reflect the risks of gangrene that had occurred to over twenty people since the labeling was approved by FDA. Wyeth had incorrectly argued that the federal regulations prohibited their changes to the label, because they must have been based on “newly acquired information….” The Court countered that Wyeth was incorrect, and that they could have added warnings to reflect the 19 amputations that had arisen from Phenergan’s use before Ms. Levine’s case.
The Court also concluded that Wyeth suffered from a “more fundamental misunderstanding” about the duty to warn consumers of the risks of prescription drugs. The Court noted that
Wyeth suggests that the FDA, rather than the manufacturer, bears primary responsibility for drug labeling. Yet through many amendments to the FDCA and to FDA regulations, it has remained a central premise of federal drug regulation that the manufacturer bears responsibility for the content of its label at all times. It is charged both with crafting an adequate label and with ensuring that its warnings remain adequate as long as the drug is on the market.
Wyth also argued that the Ms. Levine’s lawsuit should be preempted because it interferes with “Congress’s purpose to entrust an expert agency to make drug labeling decisions that strike a balance between competing objectives.” The Court rejected this argument as being both out of line with the intent of Congress, and as based on “an overbroad view of agency’s power to pre-empt state law.”
On the first point, the Court notes that “[i]f Congress thought state-law suits posed an obstacle to its objectives, it surely would have enacted an express preemption provision at some point during the FDCA’s 70-year history” like it did with a 1976 amendment allowing “express pre-emption … for medical devices….”
The Court also spoke to the FDA’s role in the preemption debate, especially it’s position in favor preemption announced in the preamble to the 2006 regulations that redesigned the format and content requirements for prescription drugs. The Court also assessed how much weight to give an agency position that “state law is an obstacle to achieving its statutory objectives….” The Court found that in cases lacking express authority by Congress, the deference given to an agency “depends on its thoroughness, consistency, and persuasiveness.” Based on this, the Court decided that FDA’s position “does not merit deference.”
First, the Court pointed out a glaring procedural lapse by FDA in adopting the position that their regulations and approval of drug label preempts state law. In proposing the draft rule in 2000, the FDA had stated that the rule would “not contain policies that have federalism implications or that preempt State law.”
Despite this, FDA adopted a position in favor of preemption upon publishing the final rule in 2006. FDA did so “without offering States or other interested parties notice or opportunity for comment….” As a consequence, the Supreme concluded that “[t]he agency’s views on state law are inherently suspect in light of this procedural failure.”
The Court also noted that the FDA position on preemption “is at odds with … Congress’s purposes, and it reverses the FDA’s own longstanding position….” The Court summarized the history of FDA’s relationship to state law, noting that
the FDA traditionally regarded state law as a complementary form of drug regulation. The FDA has limited resources to monitor the 11,000 drugs on the market,and manufacturers have superior access to information about their drugs, especially in the postmarketing phase as new risks emerge.
The Court also stated that
State tort suits uncover unknown drug hazards and provide incentives for drug manufacturers to disclose safety risks promptly. They also serve a distinct compensatory function that may motivate injured persons to come forward with information. Failure-to-warn actions, in particular, lend force to the FDCA’s premise that manufacturers, not the FDA, bear primary responsibility for their drug labeling at all times. Thus, the FDA long maintained that state law offers an additional, and important, layer of consumer protection that complements FDA regulation.12 The agency’s 2006 preamble represents a dramatic change in position.
We recognize this decision as an important victory for consumers, and we applaud the Court for this decision.
We hope to post more details on this decision, and its potential impact on our other lawsuits, soon.
You can read the full decision at
Friday, June 15th, 2007
Prescription Access Litigation’s parent organization, Community Catalyst, today announced “Consumer Voices for Coverage,” a major new initiative to support state health care advocacy in certain states. The program was launched today with a Call for Proposals, and will award grants of up to $750,000 over a three-year period. To learn more, visit voicesforcoverage.org
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Community Catalyst Announce $12M Effort to Support Consumer Advocacy for Health Care Coverage
Jun 15, 2007 – Boston, Mass.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Community Catalyst announced the launch of a $12 million effort to strengthen state consumer health advocacy networks in selected states across the U.S. The national program, Consumer Voices for Coverage, will assist in building a single, integrated health care advocacy network in selected states. The call for proposals was released today.
The new program seeks to strengthen state consumer health advocacy networks through an infusion of new resources, policy support and technical assistance over a three-year period. The Consumer Voices for Coverage program will use a competitive application process and will award grants of up to $750,000 over a three-year period. These new funds will help build effective health care consumer advocacy and infrastructure as critical forces in the health care reform policy-making process.
“For ten years, Community Catalyst has worked to build stronger state health advocacy organizations and achieve improvements in health care policy,” said Susan T. Sherry, deputy director at Community Catalyst and director of Consumer Voices for Coverage. “We have seen the results of state consumer health advocacy in preserving and expanding coverage. This investment by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is both timely and strategic—it will bring state-based consumer advocates to a new level of effectiveness and national influence.”
The program builds on the findings of a report issued last fall by Community Catalyst with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
“Community Catalyst’s report, Consumer Health Advocacy: A View From 16 States, highlighted the importance of consumer advocacy and identified the specific capacities required to build stronger advocacy,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Health care coverage is a top priority for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and we are committed to supporting the consumer voice for health care reform in this country. There is no better organization to lead this empowerment effort, and we are proud to be a partner with Community Catalyst as it enters its second decade of service to the health care community.”
“There is a new wave of reform coming from state health care advocates and policy-makers—Massachusetts, California, Vermont are all moving on sweeping coverage changes,” Sherry added. “Now is the time to strengthen the consumer voice.”
For details on the program and to view the call for proposals, visit www.voicesforcoverage.org.
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national nonprofit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system, with the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice. Community Catalyst has provided leadership and support to state and local consumer organizations, policy-makers, and foundations working to change the health care system so it serves everyone—especially vulnerable members of society since 1997. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.