Supreme Court: County can't sue for alleged drug overcharging

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that only the federal government has a right to enforce its rules against overcharging for prescription drugs in public-health facilities and that the parties affected do not have the right to sue the companies for the alleged violation. In an 8-0 ruling, the justices said that Santa Clara County in California cannot sue for alleged overcharges that date back to 2001.

"Recognizing the county's right to proceed in court could spawn a multitude of dispersed and uncoordinated lawsuits" by outside parties, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the unanimous opinion, according to Reuters. She also noted that to allow the lawsuits to proceed would cause secret pricing information to be revealed, violating the law governing Medicaid.

"This ban on disclosure is a further indication of the incompatibility of private suits with the statute Congress enacted," the opinion said.

The defendants included subsidiaries of AstraZeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, Bayer and Takeda, along with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

- read a report by Reuters
- here's the report in the Wall Street Journal