Big Pharma Sues Louisiana Because the State Says You Can’t Make Medications More Expensive

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Time and time again, Big Pharma shows us that they are exactly who we think they are. This time? They’re taking action against Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in order to not offer drug discounts required by federal law, and indeed Louisiana law.

Pharma company AbbVie sued the state of Louisiana over the Defending Affordable Prescription Drug Costs statute. The day before this suit was filed, I actually covered here the fact that many Pharma companies had to be forced by the government to provide refunds to contract pharmacies and hospitals. 

Well, once again, the pharmaceutical companies are being spanked for breaking the rules, but there is no indication that our government is doing anything to keep it from happening again. Glasko-Smith-KlinePurdue Pharmaceuticals (special gold star to them for being the manufacturer of Oxycontin, a drug that has not exactly been great for rural America), Meitheal PharmaceuticalsTolmar, Inc., and Janssen Biotech (Johnson&Johnson) are all now having to refund the providers they overcharged when they refused to offer the required discounts. 
Maybe some newsrooms feel like it’s not news when a pharmaceutical company does what it is supposed to do by law. But it strikes me as newsworthy that these companies have been overcharging to such a massive degree– and are now having to issue refunds– at the same time that they are trying to gut the program that requires them to offer discounts. 

The reason? They had refused to offer legally required discounts and therefore overcharged these institutions.

Now these very same pharmaceutical companies are suing Louisiana in order to once again, not offer the required discounts. Their claim in the complaint, filed on September 21, is that the Louisiana law (Act 358) passed in June violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

What is really afoot? Big Pharma has been working overtime nationwide anywhere they can in order to destroy the 340B drug discount program as we know it because this no-cost-to-the-taxpayer program has a small effect on their overall (very, very high) profitability. This is just another card they are playing to try to limit drug discounts that are disproportionately needed by, and which disproportionately benefit rural, working-class Americans– this is why Louisiana, among other red states, has been at pains to protect the program while blue states like Minnesota and Maine have happy to work with Big Pharma to hamper it. For the record, in 2022, AbbVie, the pharmaceutical company suing the state, raked in $58 Billion in profits

So this program is hardly pushing them to the verge of bankruptcy.

And AbbVie isn’t the only company filing suit. It’s part of an industry-wide effort to avoid offering discounts. 

AstraZeneca filed a lawsuit Friday in Louisiana Western District Court challenging a state statute regulating the administration of the federal 340B drug-pricing program. The court action, brought by Adams and Reese and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, argues that the state expansion of the program imposes ‘massive’ economic obligations on underserved patients while absolving for-profit pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens from price caps. The case is 6:23-cv-01042, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP v. Jeff Landry, in his official capacity as the Attorney General of the State of Louisiana.

Strangely, we can’t seem to find many Democrats who are outraged that rural communities with little access to healthcare are being robbed blind by pharmaceutical companies looking to maximize profits. Seems like something the so-called party of the working class would be outraged about.

 

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