Drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads; Feds want to go further

Lawrence Kim
October 16, 2018

"Patients deserve to know what a given drug could cost when they're being told about the benefits and risks it may have", Azar said in a speech Monday at a forum hosted by the National Academy of Medicine. The policy was previously suggested in President Donald Trump's "blueprint" to lower US drug prices.

The Trump administration proposed a new rule on Monday that would require drug companies to disclose drug prices in TV ads. "And they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV".

Pfizer's heavily advertised nerve pain drug Lyrica has a monthly list price of $669.

"This historic proposal is an important way to create new incentives for drug companies to start lowering their list prices, rather than raising them", Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated in a press release.

It did not pledge to include the list price in commercials, arguing that they do not reflect the final amount paid by patients as it excludes rebates and discounts drugmakers may offer. Almost half of Americans are in high-deductible health plans, HHS said. And patients with high-deductibles plans or no insurance sometimes pay full price.

Most patients don't pay a drug's full list price, but insurance plans use it to set base patients' copayments. But whether the plan would prompt drug companies to lower prices remains to be seen.

If the rule is adopted after a 60-day public comment period, Azar's department plans to publicize the names of drugmakers that don't comply and could take legal action against them.

The agency said the transparency would serve to provide a "moderating force to counteract price increases", and also serve to give beneficiaries cost information, which is vital in decision-making.

Holly Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade association known as "PhRMA", said the group is still digesting the announcement but she suggested industry executives aren't happy.

Drug companies were clearly trying to fend off any government regulation.

Azar shot back that list prices were, indeed, meaningful for consumers - similar to the sticker price on an automobile.

"For too long, drug pricing has been like no other market", Azar said. "But placing information on a website is not the same as putting it right in an ad".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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