A federal judge in Washington, D.C., last week declared that the Trump administration broke the law when it tried to force drug manufacturers to declare the “wholesale acquisition cost” of their medicines in their advertisements to consumers. The administration claimed this requirement would ensure greater transparency in the market for medicines and would encourage drugmakers to lower prices.
But, as the Goldwater Institute pointed out in a comment opposing the regulation, the rule was both unconstitutional and counterproductive. There actually is no such thing as a “wholesale acquisition cost” for a medicine. The prices patients actually pay result from so many different factors—including discounts and rebates—that forcing drugmakers to specify any single price number in their ads would have actually forced them to make untrue statements, which would mislead customers. And the Constitution forbids the government from compelling businesses to say untrue things about their products.