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In a setback to the pharmaceutical industry, a federal judge ruled that programs Pfizer (PFE) wanted to launch to provide copay assistance to Medicare patients would likely violate kickback laws, a controversial notion that has caused numerous drug makers to pay large fines.

The ruling came in a closely watched lawsuit Pfizer filed in July 2020 that argued rules prohibiting companies from funding programs — either directly or indirectly — were unconstitutional. In one, Pfizer sought to provide direct financial assistance to Medicare beneficiaries using a heart failure drug. The other program would have used a charity to run a program to cover patient copays.

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