PhRMA blames insurers for high drug costs in new ad

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an influential drug lobby group, on Thursday launched a new ad campaign targeting insurers, reports Bloomberg.

While pharmacy benefit manufacturers privately negotiate with drugmakers on behalf of employers and insurers to receive the rebates, it is the insurers' decision how these discounts are passed down to the patients, Express Scripts CEO Tim Wentworth said Thursday during a televised interview with Bloomberg.

The ad campaign, titled "Share the Savings," encourages insurers to pass on more of the rebates they've negotiated with drugmakers to customers. The campaign seeks to educate the public on how rebates for commercially insured patients with high deductibles and copays are not passed on to these consumers, PhRMA said in a statement.

"We need to ensure patients receive more of the benefit of price negotiations between biopharmaceutical companies and payers," PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl said in the statement. "It is a problem that more and more Americans are being asked by their insurers to pay cost sharing based on undiscounted list prices, even though insurers may be receiving significant rebates. Providing access to discounted prices at the point-of-sale could dramatically lower patients' out-of-pocket costs."

America's Health Insurance Plans — a major lobby group for the insurance industry — responded to news of the campaign by saying, "Enough with the distractions. We need drugmakers to be more transparent in their pricing, so people know what they are paying for," according to Bloomberg.

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