July 6, 2018
ARLINGTON, Va. — Today, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), the national trade association for pharmaceutical distributors, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to block enforcement of New York’s Opioid Stewardship Act. The act imposes an unconstitutional $600 million punitive surcharge on pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers. It bypasses judicial due process and impedes the industry’s comprehensive efforts to mitigate opioid abuse and misuse.
While distributors play a critical role in the pharmaceutical supply chain, the industry’s primary responsibility is to coordinate logistics for the safe, secure transportation of prescription medicines. Distributors have no role in clinical decisions, nor do they manufacture, prescribe, or dispense opioids to patients. In part because it ignores those facts, the act is flatly unconstitutional.
HDA’s suit seeks an injunction blocking enforcement of the act on several grounds. Among other things, the surcharge is an illegal bill of attainder, as it determines guilt and imposes punishment on a narrow group without judicial due process. The law also violates due process by imposing liability retroactively for activities that occurred prior to enactment. Furthermore, the act illegally regulates distribution outside of New York by prohibiting distributors from passing the cost of the surcharge to “any” purchaser. This provision will jeopardize access to critical medicines for out-of-state patients. In addition, the act is unconstitutionally vague because it gives the New York Commissioner of Health unfettered discretion to determine the amount of any distributor’s surcharge.
Attempting to scapegoat an entire industry for a crisis with complex societal roots is a fundamentally flawed approach. HDA and its members are committed to playing their proper roles in addressing the opioid epidemic and to supporting effective, legal policy solutions to reduce the prevalence of opioid abuse. Moving forward, we will continue to collaborate with law enforcement and to educate the public about the safe use of prescription medicines, including opioids.
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s nonprofit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.