Published Online: Wednesday, February 1, 2006

A federal court in the nation's capital struck down a controversial District of Columbia (DC) law aimed at lowering prescription drug costs for the city's residents. The statute, passed by the city council late last year, allowed DC residents to file suit against a drug company if a judge determines the drug's cost to be "excessive."

Under the law, an excessive price is one that is at least 30% higher than the drug's price in Germany, Australia, Canada, or the United Kingdom. Drug companies found to charge excessive prices could be fined or forced to lower their prices under the law.

The statute drew a legal challenge from officials of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which called it "damaging and unconstitutional."

"Residents of the District of Columbia, as well as Americans everywhere, count on prescription medicines to protect their health, improve their quality of life, and, in many instances, keep them alive,"said Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive officer of PhRMA. The federal court's ruling to overturn the law "protects both patients and the quality health care we enjoy in this country."

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