Pfizer Sues Texas Agency Over Leaked Drug Prices
Written by Editor   
Sunday, November 20, 2016 06:10 PM

News Bite: The drug company Pfizer is suing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for providing Texas legislators with Pfizer's drug pricing data.  Pfizer claims the information could jeopardize their complex and secretive pricing and federal discount programs.

Pfizer has accused the Texas Health and Human Services Commission of violating federal law by handing over the company’s drug pricing information to state legislators, and is suing the agency to ensure the data aren’t leaked again.

So far this year, the Texas agency has allegedly handed over Pfizer’s drug pricing data to two Texas Senate committee heads, stoking Pfizer’s fears that the information could get leaked and jeopardize their complex and secretive pricing and discount programs.  The attorney general stated in a letter that the disclosure was required under Texas law. But Pfizer maintains that it violated federal law by giving legislators confidential information and by failing to tell the company about the disclosure.

Pfizer has to give the Texas commission drug price information as part of the state's Medicaid program. But that information, considered a trade secret in the pharmaceutical industry, isn’t supposed to be handed over to legislators, according to federal law. 

The complaint alleges that HHSC initially rebuffed a request for information and offered only de-identified examples of drug prices, to the chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, the committee responsible for the state Medicaid program’s budget.  But, with support from the Texas Attorney General, the agency gave more specific information months later when pressed. 

Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer often give federal health programs cheaper prices on drugs than are available to other programs. Rather than charge set rates to all customers, drugmakers use rebates to come up with individualized prices for larger and small purchasers.

“If public disclosure were to lead to uniform pricing, the low rates that Texas Medicaid enjoys would disappear,” according to the complaint. “Similarly, the purpose of competitive bidding would be defeated.”