The Trump administration has implemented a rule that requires drug companies to inform consumers how much their advertised drugs cost. The move is an effort by the administration to lower drug prices.
“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,” said Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
They certainly do. Television is littered with drug commercials showing sunsets, puppies and happy people who are on magical medicine used to lure the consumer to tell their doctor they want to take the magic pill like the happy commercial people. Who knows how much those drugs cost and if your insurance company will cover them?
Experts, however, have questioned the usefulness of providing list prices of medicine in ads, as most people with insurance pay far less. They fear that advertising list prices may scare patients away from drugs they could actually afford with their health insurance coverage.
“Scare patients away?” Why aren’t doctors telling their patients what medicine is appropriate? Consumers are not medical professionals, why would they be qualified to decide what medicine they should take?
Perhaps forcing drug companies to show their drug prices will shame them and that is what the industry is trying to avoid.
And so the pharmaceutical industry is pushing back on the regulation.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry’s main lobbying group, said Wednesday that the rule raises First Amendment and statutory concerns, as well as challenges in implementing it in 60 days. It rolled out a voluntary measure last October to direct consumers during TV ads to drug maker websites for pricing information instead of including the specific list price in ads.
“We are concerned that the administration’s rule requiring list prices in direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertising could be confusing for patients and may discourage them from seeking needed medical care,” said Stephen Ubl, the group’s CEO.
Azar disagrees. “Claiming list prices don’t matter is almost the same thing as claiming there’s no problem with high drug costs at all,” Azar said. “I don’t think many American seniors or patients with serious illnesses would say that’s the case.”
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