Pharmaceutical Ads May Soon Include Prices

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed new regulations that would require pharmaceutical companies to include the list price of a drug in television commercials. The draft rule has already encountered resistance from drug manufacturers, who argue that the requirement could mislead patients and deter them from seeking medical care.

Under the rule, unveiled by HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a speech before the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), companies would have to disclose the price of a 30-day supply of any drug covered through Medicare and Medicaid if the cost was more than $35 per month. By making consumers more aware of the costs of medicines, HHS believes that manufacturers will be incentivized to lower prices, a major goal of the Trump administration.

Hours before the secretary unveiled his proposal, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group, announced that drug companies would voluntarily direct consumers to websites with pricing and other information. Mr. Azar, however, dismissed the group’s proposal as ineffective, suggesting that it was only an attempt to forestall government regulation.

“Sometimes it takes government to make the first move, to disrupt a broken system, and to lay down new rules of the road,” the secretary told the audience at NAM, adding that “placing information on a website is not the same as putting it right in an ad.”

The rule is expected to be debated throughout the fall before it is formally adopted or rejected.

Source: The Washington Post, October 15, 2018.