Bristol Myers Squibb on Friday sued the Biden administration over Medicare’s new powers to reduce drug prices, the third such lawsuit filed against the program in a few days.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in New Jersey, argues that the Medicare hearings violate the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution.
Bristol Myers Squibb has asked the court to declare the program unconstitutional and prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from forcing the company into negotiations.
Bristol Myers Squibb’s arguments mirror those put forward last week Merck, the first company to sue the federal government over the drug trials. The US Chamber of Commerce has sued HHS over the program with similar arguments.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in a narrow party vote in 2022, gave Medicare authority to negotiate drug prices for the first time in the program’s six-decade history. The bill is a central pillar of the Biden administration’s efforts to bring rising drug prices under control and was a major victory for the Democratic Party.
Bristol Myers Squibb said its blood thinner Eliquis, used to treat blood clots and stroke, will be the subject of negotiations this year. The company had revenue of $11.8 billion from Eliquis last year, about 25% of the company’s total revenue of $46 billion in 2022.
The drugmaker also said Opdivo, which is used to treat multiple types of cancer, will be part of future Medicare negotiations. Opdivo generated $8.2 billion in revenue for the company in 2022, which accounted for about 18% of the drugmaker’s total revenue that year.
Bristol Myers Squibb argued the federal government was forcing the company to enter into negotiations and eventually agree to a heavily discounted price. The company claims this violates Fifth Amendment protections against government confiscation of private property without just compensation.
The drugmaker also claimed that HHS was forcing the company to publicly portray the program as a fair price negotiation. The company called the negotiations a sham and claimed the federal government was forcing the drugmaker to “parrot its favorite political messages,” in violation of the First Amendment.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a statement following Merck’s lawsuit last week, vowed to vigorously defend the Inflation Reduction Act in court, saying “the law is on our side.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also said in a statement following Merck’s lawsuit that the Biden administration is confident of winning in court.
“There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices,” Jean-Pierre said.