US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday announced a proposed rule change that would require pharmaceutical companies to provide the list prices of certain drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising. Specifically, the proposal will require drugmakers to disclose in DTC television advertisements the list price of prescription drugs with a monthly cost of at least $35 that is covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
"Patients deserve to know what a given drug will cost when they're being told about the benefits and risks it may have," Azar commented, continuing "and they deserve to know when a drug company has pushed its prices to abusive levels, and they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV."
The news comes after US President Donald Trump said in August that the administration would release plans targeting drug pricing. The President, who previously suggested that drugmakers would voluntarily lower drug prices, has also unveiled a blueprint seeking to lower drug prices and increase competition.
Separately on Monday, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announced a new initiative, indicating that DTC advertising will soon direct patients to information about drug costs. PhRMA noted that the information, which will include the list price, out-of-pocket cost and available financial assistance, will become available in the coming months.
PhRMA chief executive Stephen Ubl stated "our member companies are taking a new approach to how they communicate about medicines in DTC television advertisements to make it easier for patients to access information about medicine costs," continuing "the [Trump] Administration and Congress have called on our industry to provide cost information in DTC advertisements, and our members are voluntarily stepping up to the plate."
Commenting on the PhRMA news, Azar, who described the proposal as "a small step in the right direction," remarked "placing information on a website is not the same as putting it in an ad."
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