Prescription drug ads to start providing link for prices

Angelo Anderson
October 16, 2018

The Health and Human Services Department says the rule would apply to any company advertising on television for prescription drug and biological products paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. But Azar, speaking at a National Academy of Medicine conference, said there is precedence for such a move, pointing out that federal law requires automakers to disclose sticker prices for cars. "And they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV".

Alex Azar called the action a "small step in the right direction", but announced later in the day that the administration is proposing a rule that would require manufacturers to put list prices on ads for all prescription drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid. "And a year's worth of the most advertised drugs, mind you, can cost more than a vehicle", he said.

Most Americans don't pay the full price for prescriptions - one reason drugmakers have opposed disclosing the list prices, arguing that would just confuse the public.

It's unclear if requiring companies to include price information in advertisements will impact how much patients pay for drugs.

The Trump administration unveiled a plan Monday to require pharmaceutical companies to reveal the costs of their drugs in television advertisements, as USA officials look to crack down on rising prices that have made it hard for some Americans to afford their medication. He was unequivocal that manufacturers do not want to advertise their list prices alone because it could "discourage patients" from seeking the right drug. The cost to a patient is determined by many other factors, such as their insurance, and could be anywhere from $0 to an amount greater than the drug's list price.

The spike in drug costs for US consumers, particularly seniors, was a 2016 campaign issue for President Donald Trump, who promised that he would lower costs for most Americans.


Many details of the proposed rule still must be worked out, including whether it should be expanded to cover radio, print or internet ads. "A strong argument exists that list prices are factual, uncontroversial information, in which case HHS would need only to show that the disclosure requirement is rationally related to legitimate government interest". Any new rule would take a while to play out, as such proposals first must go through a lengthy period of public comment and revisions.

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the US market will bear because the government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other developed countries.

The policy, which was included in President Trump's wide-ranging "blueprint" to bring down drug prices in May, has come under fire from drug companies and policy experts, who point out that a drug's list price may bear little resemblance to what an individual patient pays.

Its members include numerous world's biggest drugmakers, including Pfizer, the maker of the heavily advertised nerve pain drug Lyrica, and AbbVie, which sells the drug Humira for immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Humira, AbbVie's treatment for immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, has a list price of $4,872 per monthly injection.

PhRMA, whose members include Allergen, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis, said the industry was ready to improve transparency by including information on TV ads that would direct customers to their websites.

Five-year-old Elijah needs a drug with a big price tag: almost $300,000 per year.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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