Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., filed a brief with other senators last week in support of allowing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to negotiate lower drug prices. [Health News Illinois]
The amicus brief, filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that Congress was well within its rights when it approved a plan last year that gives the federal agency the authority to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers.
The agency already negotiates costs with providers, lawmakers said, and the work is no different than what federal payers like the Department of Veterans Affairs are legally allowed to do.
“We’re telling the courts: The Medicare prescription drug program is squarely within Congress’s constitutional powers, and it’s working for families,” Durbin said in a statement.
Drug manufacturer Merck & Co. sued the federal government in June over the new authority, arguing it violates their constitutional rights by allowing the government to unilaterally impose its preferred price.
“The (law) wields the threat of crippling penalties to force manufacturers to transfer their patented pharmaceutical products to Medicare beneficiaries,” Merck said in its lawsuit.
The Biden administration last month announced the first 10 drugs selected for Medicare price negotiation.