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3 Drug Giants Win a Legal Victory Against Trump—For Now: Brainstorm Health

July 9, 2019, 7:08 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

A federal district court judge on Monday took a buzzsaw to one of the Trump administration’s most high profile drug pricing efforts. Judge Amit P. Mehta ruled in favor of pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly, Merck, and Amgen, who sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to block a rule requiring drug makers to disclose prices in television ads.

The judge concluded that HHS had overstepped its regulatory authority to force companies into such action.

Trump administration officials immediately hit back at the decision. “It is outrageous that an Obama-appointed judge sided with big pharma to keep high drug prices secret from the American people, leaving patients and families as the real victims,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere.

There was always a question as to just how effective TV ad price disclosures would prove given the HHS proposal’s focus on list prices, which aren’t necessarily the prices paid by consumers. The administration had contented that the transparency effort would shame drug makers into lowering their list prices.

Still, the victory for Lilly, Merck, and Amgen could prove short-lived. The judge’s ruling wasn’t predicated on free speech concerns (an issue raised by drug makers), but rather on executive branch authority – meaning Congress could theoretically give the administration that very authority via legislation.

How court proceedings would proceed after that is a whole different question.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Microsoft teams up with Providence St. Joseph to streamline care. Microsoft has partnered with the Providence St. Joseph health system to combine the tech giant's cloud computing and artificial intelligence expertise with Providence St. Joseph Health's available health and clinical data. The goal, the organizations say, is to streamline patient care by taking health information to the cloud - an increasingly common provider tactic. 


World Health Organization (WHO) isn't sold that lung cancer immunotherapies are "essential." Cancer immunotherapy may be all the rage in the life sciences. But the World Health Organization is leaving some of the most prominent ones for lung cancer off its essential medicines list - including Merck's Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo, and Roche's Tecentriq. “The Committee considered that their place in therapy for this condition is still evolving and that more data with longer follow-up are needed to better demonstrate estimates of their actual magnitude of benefit,” the organization said in a statement. (Some of those drugs are, however, recommended for other cancer forms.) (Reuters)


New Hampshire backtracks on Medicaid work requirement. New Hampshire is delaying penalties associated with its work requirements for Medicaid until September after some 17,000 residents were found out of compliance with the new rule. The state says it's been difficult to implement the controversial rule, which requires some of the poorest residents to require either work or community service to qualify for Medicaid. Several GOP-led states have moved to implement work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries. (NHPR)


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