By Laura Dolbow
Merck recently filed a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the Medicare price negotiation program created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Under this program, HHS will select a small number of single source drugs for price negotiation. Merck alleges that the price negotiation program operates as a price control because it effectively requires manufacturers to accept the maximum fair price as a condition of participation in Medicare and Medicaid. Merck argues that this form of price regulation charts a “radical new course” for Medicare that violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
But the price negotiation program is not the first time that Congress has placed a restriction on the prices that Medicare program participants can charge. And Merck’s lawsuit is not the first suit that has alleged that such price regulations are unconstitutional takings. Drug manufacturers recently made similar claims in litigation involving the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Two district courts rejected those claims, highlighting several obstacles that Merck’s takings claim may face as well.