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A leading pharmaceutical lobbying group is challenging a new D.C. law that makes it illegal to sell patented medicines in the city at “excessive” prices. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, calling the legislation unconstitutional. The law — the first of its kind in the United States — allows the city and its residents to sue a drug company if the price of a patented prescription is more than 30 percent higher than its price in Germany, Canada, Australia, or the United Kingdom — countries with price controls in place. The suit claims price controls undermine the system established to promote invention and punishes patent holders for recouping costs. In a statement last week, Ken Johnson, senior vice president of PhRMA, called the act “bad policy, bad law, and bad for the residents of the District.” But city officials say it’s necessary to combat rising prescription costs. Councilman David Catania (D), who sponsored the bill last month, calls it a simple consumer protection issue. “They say this is price fixing. That’s a lie,” says Catania. “They can make their case in court for why they need to charge what they say they need to charge.” The law still must undergo a congressional review, and, if approved, it wouldn’t take effect until January. Judge Richard Leon last week denied the plaintiff’s motion for a restraining order that would have temporarily prevented the District from publishing the law.
Sarah Kelley can be contacted at [email protected].

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