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AG Nessel Joins Bipartisan, Nationwide Coalition Defending Affordable Drug Prices

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a bipartisan, nationwide coalition of attorneys general in two amicus briefs defending affordable drug prices before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the District of Columbia.  

The briefs defend the actions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in cases filed by Sanofi SA, Novartis Pharmaceutics, United Therapeutics Corp and NovoNordisk. The pharmaceutical giants have refused to comply or have unilaterally adopted unlawful restrictions on the 340B Program requiring discounted drug pricing for community health centers, clinics, and institutions serving low-income and underserved patient populations. The 340B Drug Pricing Program was adopted by Congress in 1992 and has strong bipartisan support.  

The drug companies challenged violation orders issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The bipartisan, multistate coalition argues in their amicus briefs that the HHS actions were lawful and necessary. 

“By refusing to fulfill their obligations to provide drug discounts to federally qualified health centers and providers that serve vulnerable populations, these drug manufacturers are in violation of the law,” Nessel said. “Patients should not have to choose between their medications and food or rent. I stand with my colleagues in supporting the HHS actions to hold non-compliant drug-makers accountable.” 

“For nearly two years…drug manufacturers participating in the 340B Program of the Public Services Act, 42 U.S.C. § 256b (“340B Program”), have flouted their statutory obligation to offer safety-net providers 340B-discounted prices on critical prescription drugs.  These drug manufacturers have either limited 340B covered entities to using a single retail community pharmacy (contract pharmacy), or conditioned the use of multiple contract pharmacies on intrusive audits of healthcare providers’ confidential, proprietary claims data.  Drug manufacturers allege that imposing conditions that restrict the use of contract pharmacies is appropriate because the term “pharmacy” is not in the text of the 340B statute and that such conditions are necessary to prevent drug diversion and duplicate reimbursement claims.  But permitting manufacturers to unilaterally change the 340B Program is in direct contravention of the statute and policies long pursued by Congress and advanced by the States,” the states argue.   

The bipartisan coalition of attorneys general led by Connecticut previously urged HHS to hold drug makers accountable for their unlawful actions imperiling access to affordable prescriptions for low-income patients.   

The amicus briefs were led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and, in addition to Michigan, were signed by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.