The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Judge Invested in Big Pharma Shouldn't Try Case on Big Pharma Profiteering

Today, the Revolving Door Project (RDP) sent a letter calling for Judge Thomas M. Rose, the judge presiding over the Chamber of Commerce’s attempt to block Medicare drug price negotiations, to recuse himself from the case on conflict-of-interest grounds.

As RDP initially reported in The American Prospect, Judge Rose has significant holdings in Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, two companies with drugs up for negotiation by Medicare. Both firms have filed their own independent lawsuits against the government. These companies have an interest in certain outcomes in the Chamber of Commerce’s case, and therefore Judge Rose appears to have a financial interest in those same outcomes.

On July 12, the Chamber of Commerce filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which would slow down negotiations and delay price relief for Americans in need of these drugs. Out of eight cases challenging the price negotiations, the case before Judge Rose is the only one in which a motion for preliminary injunction has been filed. The Department of Justice has responded to this case with a motion to dismiss, arguing that the suit lacks standing.

In the letter, RDP explains that there is reason to question whether Judge Rose’s holdings violate Canons 2 and 3 of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges.

Revolving Door ProjectResearch Assistant Ananya Kalahasti, who co-authored the article in the Prospect, said “The Chamber of Commerce’s case against the Inflation Reduction Act, should it succeed, could immediately halt the progress on prescription drug prices that the IRA has been working towards for the past year. In a case as high stakes as this, any chance that Judge Rose evaluates this case in his own personal financial interest, rather than by the letter of the law, is a significant threat to judicial ethics.”

“Judge Rose’s holdings in Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca mean that he stands to financially benefit if he were to grant the Chamber’s motion for preliminary injunction. Any ruling favorable to the pharmaceutical industry that he hands down will give rise to questions of conflicts of interest,” said Revolving Door Project Research Intern Will Royce, who co-authored the article.

The full letter is available here.

The Revolving Door Project (RDP) scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.