PhRMA Sues to Block New Florida Medicaid Drug Law
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has filed suit against Florida to block a new law that requires pharmaceutical companies to provide discounts to have their drugs placed on the state's Medicaid formulary, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee, PhRMA argues that the Florida law violates a federal statute that requires states to offer all prescription drugs to Medicaid beneficiaries "unless there is a written finding that the drug offers no clinically meaningful benefit" (Gold/Hensley, Wall Street Journal, 8/8). The suit names Florida Medicaid head Bob Sharpe and state Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Rhonda Medows as defendants. "They are restricting patients' access to drugs not for medical ... reasons but for money reasons," Jan Faiks, PhRMA assistant general counsel, said (Kestin, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/8). PhRMA says that only 821 of the 1,827 brand-name medicines covered by Medicaid appear on Florida's drug formulary. Under the Florida law, passed in May, doctors may prescribe drugs not on the formulary, but they must call a phone bank of pharmacists for approval -- a requirement "expected to prompt may physicians to prescribe drugs on the formulary," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 8/8). "This is a suit with national implications that, if successful, would stop Florida and other states from taking steps to rein in (prescription drug) costs," Medows said. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) added that protecting "large profit margins for multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies is not a priority" for the state (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/8). "I guess I'll take it as a badge of honor that I'm being sued by the big drug manufacturers about what's right," Bush said (AP/Miami Herald, 8/8).