The law had been challenged by three IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health and Verispan, which collect, analyze and sell prescription data to drugmakers, government agencies and researchers. The companies argued the law would prevent the health care community from monitoring the safety of new drugs. The bill's supporters contend it is one of several new laws passed by Maine legislators that aim to address high health care and prescription drug costs.
In a 42-page decision issued Friday, Woodcock said he relied heavily on an April 30 ruling by US District Judge Paul Barbadoro in New Hampshire that shot down a similar law in that state, the AP reports. A similar case is also pending in Vermont. The primary sponsor of Maine's legislation, Democratic Rep. Sharon Treat, said she was disappointed with the ruling and anticipates an appeal. Treat also runs the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices.
The Maine law, one several enacted by the Legislature in an attempt to address high health care and prescription drug costs, was modified after the New Hampshire ruling in an attempt to avoid constitutional flaws. Under an "opt out" provision, drug prescribers were allowed to prevent release of information that identifies them. Appeals by Maine and New Hampshire could be consolidated if judges at the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals find that they involved similar issues.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Knowlton, who argued the case on Maine's behalf, said Friday that neither he nor Attorney General Steven Rowe had an opportunity to study Woodcock's decision. "The attorney general is disappointed by the judge's conclusion," Knowlton tells the AP. "We obviously believed the New Hampshire statute is very different than Maine's."
Source: The Associated Press