The Supreme Court’s other business
■ Connected coverage - selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine
Posted April 9, 2012
The intense attention paid to the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 26-28 consideration of the health system reform law overshadowed several other health care cases that have wide-ranging implications on medical care.
In addition to its comprehensive coverage of the health reform oral arguments, American Medical News reported on these recent Supreme Court decisions of great interest to physicians and other health professionals. The justices struck down patents on a medical test that measures patients’ metabolite levels. They sent a lawsuit by California physicians and others against Medicaid pay cuts back to a lower court for further consideration. And justices sided with drugmakers in separate cases involving the sale of physician information and liability for labeling errors.
The justices ruled that Prometheus Laboratories Inc. could not hold a set of patents on a test that measures metabolite levels in patients taking thiopurine drugs to determine drug efficacy, saying the firm cannot claim ownership over naturally occurring phenomena. Physicians had expressed concern that such exclusivity rights would prevent them from considering all relevant scientific data when observing patients. Read more
The justices sent a lawsuit by California doctors and other health professionals against state Medicaid pay reductions back to a lower court, saying the plaintiffs might need to pursue a different legal argument now that the federal government has signed off on the pay cuts. Physicians called the ruling good news because it keeps their legal options open in fighting the cuts. Read more
The Supreme Court said data collection firms can sell information about physician prescribing patterns to drug companies, which can use the information unless a doctor has explicitly opted out of the process. Justices also ruled in a separate case that generic drug manufacturers cannot be held liable for repeating labeling mistakes made on the original, brand-name version of the medications. Read more