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August 2, 2007 at 3:37 PM

Federal court thwarts D.C. pharmaceutical price controls

A federal court thwarted the District of Columbia’s efforts to put a lid on medicine prices on constitutional grounds — earning the applause of the biotech industry.

The United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling that found D.C.’s Prescription Drug Excessive Pricing Act of 2005 breached the goals established by patent laws.

The law sought to keep drugs from costing more than 30 percent above what they cost in other developed countries. It also required companies to reveal their invention costs to the authorities.

Supporters said the measure was necessary to counter skyrocketing pharmaceutical costs. Opponents argued that the law would stifle innovation.

The ruling marks a victory for the biotech industry, currently assailed by a legislative effort to pave the way for generics of genetically-engineered therapies.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization commended the court for its decision.

“This law, like other price control measures, would not have had the intended effect of increasing patient access to drugs,” said BIO president Jim Greenwood in a statement.

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