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Judge skeptical of arguments against Medicare drug price negotiation

WILMINGTON, Del. — Wednesday was the first time that a federal judge asked questions in-person of drug industry lawyers who are trying to stop Medicare from negotiating drug prices. It didn’t go well for them.

AstraZeneca’s lawyers argued that Medicare’s new powers amount to a taking of their property rights without due process. But Colm Connolly, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Delaware, said he doesn’t understand how the law deprives AstraZeneca of its property. He asked Catherine Stetson, who represents AstraZeneca, multiple times to explain what property the company would lose due to Medicare price negotiation. Stetson said it’s both the patent and the drug that’s subject to the patent.

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“You’re free to do what you want,” Connolly said, adding that drug companies don’t have to sell to Medicare. “You may not make as much money.”

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