State lawmakers have been searching for ways to curb major price increases on medicines in recent years, but Maryland, the only state that has passed a law aimed at such "price gouging" practices, already is facing legal barriers.
The law, formally known as the "Prohibition Against Price Gouging for Essential Off-Patent or Generic Drugs," gives the state attorney general authority to challenge drug companies when they have significantly raised the prices of a generic drug to an "unconscionable" level or one that is "excessive" and "not justified." The law passed in April and is set to go into effect Oct 1.
Advocates say they hope the law can reduce healthcare costs and health insurance premiums. Opponents, including generic drug-makers, counter that the law's language is not only too vague but is likely in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They note that prescription drug prices are not set by states, and that the power to regulate interstate commerce belongs to the federal government.
Armed with those arguments, the Association for Accessible Medicines, which represents generics, filed a lawsuit against the attorney general and the state health secretary.