Amgen, Lilly, Merck sue HHS

June 16, 2019

Amgen, Eli Lilly and Merck sued the Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to block new rules requiring that drugmakers disclose the list price of their drugs in television ads

Last month, despite widespread industry objections, federal regulators created the rule requiring that prices for drugs be included in direct-to-consumer ads. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the rule will apply to any medications with a list price of $35 a month or more.

Much of the pharma industry argued that disclosing list prices is misleading because costs are generally recouped by insurance. There are also concerns that it could discourage patients from seeking needed medical care.

According to the drugmakers involved in the lawsuit, the rules are “entirely unnecessary, bad for patients, and detrimental to health care,’’ as well as a violation of the companies’ free-speech rights.

Interestingly enough, among the individual defendants named is HHS Secretary Alex Azar — the former president of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations. Azar championed the new rule and has been vocal in his support. “What I say to the companies is if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your prices,” Azar said back in May.

The rule is scheduled to take effect on July 9.

Read the reactions from the industry to the finalized rule.