On July 7th, Judge Amit P. Mehta of the Washington D.C. District Court ruled against the federal pharma price transparency ruling enacted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this past May. The ruling came just one day before the new price transparency guidelines were set to take effect, leaving brands and agencies scrambling to update their spots. Now the Federal Government will have to decide whether to appeal the ruling or find another way to compel big pharma to include prices in their ads.
The lawsuit was filed by pharma giants Merck, Eli Lilly, and Amgen and the Association of National Advertisers; and claimed that HHS was acting outside of its authority. Judge Mehta agreed, saying, “policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs. But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized.” Pricing disclosure may be on hold for now, but the regulatory whirlwind for pharma advertisers may not yet be over.