Well, fear not, legal mavens. Jayne Juvan of Juvan’s Health Law Update has now provided a genuine legal analysis of this case in NACDS and NCPA Challenge Average Manufacturer Price Calculation. While Jayne is coy about predicting the ultimate outcome, I’ll be bolder and/or more foolish.
I predict that this legal challenge will fail and CMS will not be enjoined by the Court from implementing its Final Rule on AMP. You may not like my conclusion, but it seems consistent with the objective facts and standards of judgment that will be applied.
Jayne has been noticeably absent from the blogosphere in the past few months, so it’s very good to have her back. She took time off from blogging for some silly reason like “working for pay.” Ha! Doesn’t she know what a blog is all about?
Anyway, Jayne reviews the specific legal precedents of the D.C. Circuit Court, which is where NACDS and NCPA are suing CMS. Although she is careful not to provide a formal legal conclusion, Jayne notes that standard applied by the D.C. Circuit is actually quite similar to the standard from the Second Circuit that I discussed on Thursday. (Thanks, Corbin!)
She points out that the case will likely rest on whether the harm of implementing the Final Rule is irreparable -- “impossible to repair, rectify, or amend.” Jayne quotes the D.C. Circuit as saying: “Mere injuries, however, substantial, in terms of money, time and energy necessarily expended in the absence of a stay are not enough.”
Evaluating Irreparable Harm
In re-reading the Complaint, I see very little discussion of irreparable harm by the plaintiffs. The complaint highlights the potential impact of AMP for retail pharmacies, such as:
- Reduced hours and services
- Being “forced out of the Medicaid program”
- Forced to “close their doors altogether”
The third claim has more theoretical merit, but continues the unfortunate tradition of exaggerating the financial impact of AMP. It also does not seem to exceed the “mere injuries” standard highlighted above.
The complaint notes CMS’ estimate of $8 billion in reduced reimbursement over five years. Given the growth in pharmacy spending, the real reduction in pharmacy revenues from AMP is estimated to be 0.5% in 2008. For the typical independent with $2.5 million in revenues, that translates into $12,500 less revenue per year ($2.5M*0.5%), or about $1,000 per month. That's not good news and will certainly require some belt tightening. But it's hardly the difference between bankruptcy and easy street in 2008.
Just to be clear, I have written very sympathetically about the plight of independent pharmacies under AMP. But AMP is not the only cause of the challenges facing independents. Please read Hype vs. Research and Heretical Questions about the AMP War before sending me hate mail.
Thus, I believe the injunction will fail because the Court will realize that there is little actual irreparable harm. I suspect the Court will also reason that we’ll have the opportunity in 2008 to assess the actual, non-hypothetical effects of this legislation (pro and con).
Reminder: read the disclaimer below. And never forget that free advice from a blog might be worth what you paid for it.