HHS wants list prices of drugs costing more than $35 a month displayed in TV ads

Despite fervent objection by pharma companies, HHS proposed a rule Oct. 15 that would require drugmakers to disclose the list price of a drug in their television ads if it costs more than $35 a month.

If finalized, the new rule would apply to any direct-to-consumer advertisements for drugs offered through the Medicare or Medicaid programs. Drugmakers would have to divulge the list price using legible text.

 "You ought to know how much a drug costs and how much it's going to cost you, long before you get to the pharmacy counter or get the bill in the mail," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a news release.

The list price is considered the sticker price of a drug that acts as a starting point for negotiations with pharmacy benefit managers. According to HHS, the 10 most commonly advertised drugs have list prices ranging from $535 to 11,000 per month or course of therapy.

While some argue disclosing the list price is not enough, HHS says 47 percent of Americans have high-deductible health plans that often require patients to pay the list price until their insurance kicks in.

The rule, announced by Mr. Azar, is part of the Trump administration's blueprint to lower drug prices for patients.

Holly Campbell, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing pharma giants like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, told ABC News the group is mulling over the announcement, but suggested the industry is not happy with the proposed rule.

"We think there is a better way to provide patients with medicine cost information," Ms. Campbell told ABC.

Earlier Oct. 15, before the Trump administration's rule was announced, PhRMA  touted a new voluntary plan to direct consumers during TV ads to drugmaker websites for pricing information, including list prices and possible financial assistance.

During the announcement of the administration's new proposed rule, Mr. Azar criticized PhRMA's move, arguing it fell short.

"Placing information on a website is not the same as putting it right in an ad," he said, according to CNN.  "We will not rely on voluntary action to accomplish our goals."

Read the full rule here.

More articles on pharmacy:
Gag clauses are now illegal: 5 things to know
Pfizer settles coupon deception charges for $700K: 5 things to know
Viewpoint: Big pharma should drop battles with Amazon, CVS, Walgreens


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