Cable and internet industry lobbyists joins fight to block drug price disclosure mandate

A lobbyist group associated with the cable and internet industries have joined forces with a group of pharmaceutical companies and the Association of National Advertisers in an effort to contest a new regulation that forces prescription drug companies to advertise their list price when creating online or television commercials, according to the Media Post.

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The Internet & Television Association allied themselves with several drug manufacturers and the ANA after submitting a ‘friend-of-the-court’ brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

“More than merely affecting pharmaceutical companies, the rule also affects the First Amendment rights of cable networks and systems,” the Internet & Television Association wrote in the brief obstained by Media Post. “By requiring disclosure of a prescription drug’s wholesale cost, the rule effectively prevents cable networks and systems from carrying advertisements that do not include that information.”

Big Pharma companies Merck, Eli Lilly and Amgen began the campaign against the drug price disclosure mandate after The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented the new rule that requires all prescription drug companies to incorporate wholesale price information for their drugs when running ads.

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All three drug manufacturers, alongside the Association of National Advertisers, sued earlier this year to block the mandate, claiming that the Health and Human Services agency did not have the power to impose the rule while also arguing that a drugs list price is often higher than out-of-pocket costs.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta blocked the mandate in June due to the fact that the agency did in fact overstep its authority when imposing such regulations on the prescription drug market.

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Meanwhile, the White House is appealing the District Court’s decision, reasoning that the rule is in fact warranted due to the government’s power in administering Medicaid and Medicare.

The Internet & Television Association is now advocating the appellate court to uphold blocking the mandate, arguing that the drug price-disclosure mandate is a violation of cable providers’ free speech rights, with the group arguing that the rule forces cable companies “to convey a controversial message against their will, in violation of their First Amendment rights,” the group wrote in Tuesday’s brief according to Media Post's report.

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“Although NCTA takes no position on the public policy debate regarding drug pricing and access to health care, the issues in this appeal affect the First Amendment rights of cable systems and networks because the rule’s disclosure requirements apply to advertisements on cable and streaming television platforms,” the organization argued.

The NCTA echoed the ANA’s argument stating that forcing companies to advertise a drugs list price is not relevant to what consumers will actually pay in term of drug costs.

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While most cable providers have previously adopted a relatively broad opinion when it comes to free speech and the First Amendment, much of that changed several years ago when those same cable companies eventually came to see the Obama-era net neutrality rules as outright violations of their First Amendment rights.