Last week, the Southern District Court of Ohio heard the first oral arguments from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (CoC, the Chamber) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Chamber requested an injunction of the Medicare negotiation program before October 1, which is the deadline for companies to sign an agreement to participate in the process, the Hill reports.
The DOJ asked once again for the case to be thrown out, noting that one of the companies cited in the Chamber’s complaint is not one of the companies chosen to negotiate, except only one subsidiary, Pharmacyclics, was. Pharmacyclics was not a known member of the CoC until the suit was filed.
Reuters reports that the CoC attorney, Jeffrey Bucholtz, argued that the prescription drug price negotiation program establishes “price controls” which could result in unfair rates and violate the due process clause of the 5th Amendment.
Lawyers with the DOJ countered by saying that drugmakers still maintained the option to withdraw from the Medicare and Medicaid programs but choose not to. From Justice Department attorney Brian Netter:
If they choose not to, that’s their prerogative. But under the system that has been devised by Congress, under decades of precedent, there is no judicial recourse at this juncture.
The judge presiding over the case is Michael Newman, appointed under former President Donald Trump. Axios suggests that the optics of the case could conflict with the 2024 election, in which President Joe Biden would want to champion the Medicare drug price negotiation program as part of his accomplishments, but an injunction against the program could be an opportunity for the campaign to boost the need for Democrats to fill open federal court seats.