The Trump administration unveiled a plan Monday to require pharmaceutical companies to reveal the costs of their drugs in television advertisements, as U.S. officials look to crack down on rising prices that have made it difficult for some Americans to afford their medication.
Under the proposal, drugmakers would have to disclose the cost of a 30-day supply of any drug covered by Medicare or Medicaid that costs more than $35 in their commercials, alongside potential side effects and other pertinent information. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the policy will stoke competition among pharmaceutical companies and empower consumers.
“That way, people know how much a drug costs when they go to see their doctor whether it’s a $50 drug or a $5,000 drug,” Azar told FOX News anchor Bret Baier. “They can factor that into the discussion they’re going to have with their doctors.”
President Trump has repeatedly vowed to address the rising cost of medicine and called on top manufacturers to lower their prices. The administration unveiled a “blueprint” last May to lower prices and out-of-pocket costs to citizens.
Hours before the plan was unveiled, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents the pharmaceutical industry, argued the inclusion of prices on TV ads would be misleading to customers and could discourage some from seeking care. The group said the list prices “are not a good indicator” of final cost because they do not show discounts through insurance companies, adding that leading manufacturers are concerned that the plan would violate their First Amendment rights.
PhRMA, whose members include Allergen, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis, said the industry was ready to improve transparency by including information on TV ads that would direct customers to their websites.
Trump has taken aim at specific drug companies in his push to lower prices. The president publicly criticized Pfizer last July after the company announced price increases for more than 100 drugs. Facing pressure, Pfizer opted to delay the price increases.
“The president said in May that he wanted to bring this kind of transparency and accountability to the drug industry so that he could bring drug prices down,” Azar added. “He’s delivering on that today.”