You’ve seen them. They are beautifully done TV commercials with mostly beautiful people acting the part of someone in desperate need for just the right drug to fix whatever malady plagues them. They always include a push for whoever needs the drug to ask their doctor to prescribe it for them.
What they don’t do is tell you how much these drugs cost.
Not anymore. The Trump administration has made a decision — via the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — to require drug companies to put how much a drug will cost a consumer in its direct-to-consumer TV advertisements. The idea says HHS Secretary Alex Azar is to help people understand just how much the drug will cost them if they — indeed — get their doctor to prescribe the drug.
“The vast majority of Americans struggling to afford their drugs are put in that position because they are paying based on high list prices,” Azar said. “We think it is a fundamental right to know whether that drug they’re being pitched is a $50 or $5,000 drug.”
Azar pointed out that the 10 most commonly advertised drugs run from $488 per month or $16,938 per month. Requiring price disclosures — he says — will help drive down the list price of drugs.
The rule has been finalized and will go into effect in about 60-days but will not apply to commercials already on the air.
Drug companies — who spend about $4 billion a year on TV advertising — insist the rule will confuse consumers, because a drug’s list price is often lower than what the patient will actually pay.
They also say listing prices may even discourage some people from seeking treatment because they don’t think they can afford a drug.
Speaking of drug prices, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham says he expects Congress to act on high drug prices. He said they’ll probably start with the patent process.
“I expect us to do something on patents and prescription drugs this year. I don’t know where the sweet spot is but doing nothing is unacceptable,” Graham said. And he — and others — assume this will be a bipartisan effort.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn agrees. He wants to end the drug company practice of taking out dozens on patents on a single drug to end competition.
Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, Insurance Journal