Trump Admin Announces Drug Makers Must Start Listing Prices on TV Ads
Beginning this summer, pharmaceutical companies will be required to disclose their list prices for prescription medications in television commercials, the Trump administration announced Wednesday morning.
President Donald Trump has made skyrocketing drug costs a key issue within his administration. By demanding that drug companies include listing prices in their commercials, the goal is to shame “big pharma” into keeping their drug prices at a minimum.
Democrats and Republicans should be working together to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
What are Democrats doing instead? Holding the Attorney General in contempt for NOT breaking the law.
It’s ABSURD. pic.twitter.com/0WS5zuSfCs
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 7, 2019
Last May, Trump and Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, introduced the American Patients First blueprint, a strategic plan to lower the cost of prescription drug prices. The blueprint stated that one issue to tackle was creating incentives for drug companies to lower list prices. Azar pitched the idea last fall to require the inclusion of list prices in direct-to-consumer advertising.
“Requiring the inclusion of drugs’ list prices in TV ads is the single most significant step any administration has taken toward a simple commitment: American patients deserve to know the prices of the healthcare they receive,” the former pharmaceutical executive argued.
Until now, companies were only required to advertise major side effects of a drug, not the price. The Trump administration said that the new rule will apply to drugs that cost more than $35 for a month’s supply. This guideline means that nearly all drugs advertised on TV will be included in this requirement.
According to HHS, the 10 most frequently advertised medications on TV have list prices “ranging from $535 to $11,000 per month or usual course of therapy.”
In an interview with ABC News, Azar said that drug companies spend an average of $4 billion on television ads, which tell consumers to “ask your doctor” and not disclose any further information on pricing. “The patient is going to have vastly more information to choose among different therapies and pick the most affordable one for them,” Azar said.
According to CNBC, Johnson & Johnson became the first pharmaceutical company to announce its medication’s listing prices will be included in television commercials, along with potential out-of-pocket expenses for the patient.
Drug companies have been hesitant to release list prices because “it’s simply the price that’s advertised” and not “what consumers actually pay” for the medication.
Azar said that pharmaceutical companies have no excuse not to include the drug’s listing price, saying that consumers have a right to know what they should expect to pay for a drug.
Today we’re telling drug companies they have to come clean to patients about the cost of their drugs: It’s time to put the prices in your TV ads. Transparency for American patients is here. https://t.co/DhBfsUSbkl
— Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) May 8, 2019
“Claiming list prices don’t matter is almost the same as claiming there is no problem with high drug costs at all,” Azar told reporters in a press speech Wednesday.
He also said that drug companies should be more “transparent” about what they are selling and applauded Johnson & Johnson’s announcement to disclose its prices.
Steven J. Ubl, CEO and president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, responded to the new rule Wednesday afternoon.
Regarding his concern that listing drug prices in ads would confuse patients and “discourage them from seeking needed medical care,” Ubl announced that PhRMA would create a new platform called Medical Assistance Tool.
“This tool links to the websites referenced in company DTC television advertising and includes a search tool to help patients connect to financial assistance programs,” the statement read. “This effort is just one of several ways our members are working to ensure patients have the information they need to make more informed health care decisions.”
However, Azar is expected to finalize the rule this week, giving companies 60 days to put the requirement into effect.
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