AP

Drugmakers Will Have To Reveal Medication Prices In TV Ads

May 8, 2019, 9:38 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:09 pm
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Those ever-present TV ads for prescription drugs will soon carry prices, too, the nation’s top health official said Wednesday, responding to a public outcry for government action to restrain medication costs.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration has finalized regulations that will require drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply.

“What I say to the companies is if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your prices,” Azar said. “Transparency for American patients is here.”

Upping the pressure on the industry, Azar also said the administration is willing to consider allowing Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad if it can be shown to be safe and actually deliver savings to patients.

Prescription pricing disclosure was part of a multilevel blueprint President Donald Trump announced last year to try to lower prescription drug costs . As a candidate, Trump, a Republican, also favored allowing importation from abroad.

The pricing details are expected to appear in text toward the end of commercials, when potential side effects are being disclosed. TV viewers should notice the change later this year, perhaps as early as the summer.

Democrats say measures like price disclosure won’t force drugmakers to lower what they charge, and they want Medicare to negotiate on behalf of consumers.

Other ideas from the Trump administration include regulations affecting Medicare and legislative proposals pending in Congress. With the cost of medicines a top concern for voters, Trump and lawmakers of both major political parties want accomplishments they can point to before the 2020 elections.

The drug industry opposes the price reveal, saying companies would rather provide the information on their websites. But Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, announced this year that it would start disclosing the cost of its blood thinner Xarelto in TV advertising. That drug is used to treat and prevent blood clots that can cause strokes.

Among drug industry complaints is that the government would be infringing on First Amendment free speech rights by forcing companies to disclose prices. Azar points out that the government has for decades required carmakers to post their sticker prices on vehicles.

“Prices of automobiles are vastly less important to your health and affordability than drugs,” he said.

According to the latest government figures, the 10 most commonly advertised drugs have prices ranging from $488 to $16,938 per month or for a usual course of therapy.

The disclosure requirement will not apply to print or radio ads for the foreseeable future. It covers all brand name drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which is nearly all medications.

“Over $4 billion of pharma spend is in TV ads … that is their most impactful form of advertising,” Azar said. “That is where the patient has the most need of being informed.”

The government is hoping that patients armed with price information will start discussing affordability with their doctors, and gradually that will put pressure on drugmakers to keep costs in check.

In a twist, enforcement of the disclosure rule will rely on drug companies suing each other over violations under a longstanding federal law that governs unfair trade practices.

“There are very large legal practices built on pharma companies suing each other,” Azar said, calling it a “quite effective mechanism.”

Most people count on lower cost generic drugs to manage their health problems, but the advent of revolutionary medications for once-fatal or intractable diseases has put consumers on edge. Some genetic and cellular-based treatments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, which has put a strain on the budgets of insurers and government programs.

A recent poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1 in 3 Americans said they haven’t taken medications as prescribed because of costs. People who take four or more medications, those who spend $100 a month or more on meds, patients in fair to poor health and middle-aged adults are more likely to report affordability problems.

Although most patients do not pay the full list prices that will be included in ads, experts say those prices are still important. They’re the starting point for negotiations between drugmakers and insurers. Also, copays that patients face are often based on list prices. And many people who have high-deductible insurance plans pay list prices for medications because their insurance doesn’t start covering until patients have spent several thousand dollars of their own money.

In other economically advanced countries, governments negotiate drug prices to keep medications more affordable for patients. But except for some government programs like the Veterans Affairs health system, the U.S. has held back from government-set prices.

The regulations will take effect 60 days after they’re published in the Federal Register.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West attend the WSJ. Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards sponsored by Harr...
ANDREW DALTON, AP Entertainment Writer

Kim Kardashian and Ye settle divorce, averting custody trial

Kim Kardashian and Ye have reached a settlement in their divorce, averting a trial that had been set for next month.
1 day ago
[File] Pride Flag...
MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

Landmark same-sex marriage bill wins Senate passage

The Senate has passed bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriages.
1 day ago
Stewart Rhodes in October 2022 in federal court. (Bill Hennessy)...
LINDSAY WHITEHURST, ALANNA DURKIN RICHER and MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

Oath Keepers boss guilty of seditious conspiracy in 1/6 case

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has been convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.
1 day ago
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 13: Defence ministers and delegates are seen at the start of the North ...
STEPHEN McGRATH, LORNE COOK and ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press

NATO renews membership vow to Ukraine, pledges arms and aid

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says war-torn Ukraine will one day become a member of the world’s largest security alliance
1 day ago
(@USGSVolcanoes/Twitter)...
Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What hazards are posed by Hawaii’s Mauna Loa?

Lava is shooting into the air and flowing downhill as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupts for the first time in nearly 40 years.
1 day ago
In an aerial view, freight rail cars sit in a rail yard near shipping containers on November 22, 20...
JOSH FUNK, AP Business Writer

Biden calls on Congress to head off potential rail strike

President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass legislation to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month’s deadline in the stalled contract talks.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Drugmakers Will Have To Reveal Medication Prices In TV Ads