PhRMA seeks to revive Medicare price negotiations lawsuit, blasts Biden's request for IRA expansion

As President Joe Biden doubles down on the price negotiation measures in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), prominent industry lobbying group the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) isn’t letting its legal challenge go down without a fight.

PhRMA and its allies the National Infusion Center Association (NICA) and the Global Colon Cancer Association this week appealed a recent loss in Texas federal court, taking their argument to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Bloomberg reports.

The move comes a few weeks after U.S. District Judge David Ezra dismissed PhRMA’s lawsuit challenging the IRA’s negotiation measures on procedural grounds.

PhRMA and its partners had argued that the government pricing negotiates tread on provisions outlined in the Fifth Amendment and that the law’s excessive fines violate the Eighth Amendment.

Meanwhile, PhRMA’s appeal came during the same week that Bristol Myers Squibb, Novo Nordisk, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson were set to lay out their arguments against the IRA at a joint hearing. Last month, a judge permitted the companies to combine their arguments for the March 7 hearing.

Aside from the setback to PhRMA’s challenge, AstraZeneca’s arguments were rejected in early March in a Delaware federal court.

While the drug industry fights the law tooth and nail in the courts, that hasn’t stopped the Biden administration from seeking to expand the IRA’s price negotiation powers in the future.

During Biden’s State of the Union address, the president asked Congress to expand Medicare's price negotiations to 50 drugs a year.

PhRMA was quick to push back against Biden's updated plan. 

The trade group cited bipartisan support for fixing "some of the flaws of the IRA," but argued that the government is nevertheless "rushing to make this bad law worse."

"Letting government bureaucrats arbitrarily set the price of medicines allows politics to dictate which cures are worth investing in and who should get access to them," PhRMA said in a statement late Thursday. "It puts the government between patients and their doctors."

PhRMA proceeded to place a spotlight on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which the group contends are "gaming the system and driving up medicine costs." PhRMA is asking Congress to pass "strong" reforms for PBMs this year.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from PhRMA.