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Gavel with drugs it is a safe bet that the Trump administration will attempt to redeploy this rule, or that Congress may pass legislation giving HHS the proper authority to regulate price transparency. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Hours before it was scheduled to take effect on July 9th, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. blocked a controversial final rule which would have regulated the marketing of prescription drugs. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled, to the dismay of many cost-containment advocates, that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked the regulatory authority to force drug manufacturers to include the cost of drugs in television commercials. She noted, “[t]hat policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs. But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized.”

This decision is just one in a line of many recent court rulings in which judges have found that the Trump administration exceeded its authority, specifically its regulatory authority, when promulgating rules. For cost-containment advocates (among others), it is important to understand why the courts are rebuking the administration’s attempts to implement regulations related to price and transparency. In most cases, including in this one, the courts are relying on one of the most important and controversial doctrines in administrative law: Chevron deference.

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