In the immediate aftermath of a U.S. Supreme Court Term that featured stirring debates on administrative agencies’ proper place in the Constitution’s separation-of-powers scheme, it’s fitting that Judge Amit P. Mehta invalidated an ultra vires agency action. On July 8 in Merck & Co., Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he held that a rule mandating drug-price disclosure in TV ads exceeded the implementing agency’s statutory authority. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers and an advertising trade group had challenged the rule on both administrative-law and First Amendment grounds.

We have written previously here about HHS’s idea to require disclosure of drugs’ “sticker price” in TV ads, which the agency floated in a “blueprint” on how government could lower prescription drug prices. Our analysis focused on the Food & Drug Administration’s lack of authority to impose such a rule and the mandate’s violation of drug makers’ and consumers’ speech rights.