Cable Industry Urges Court to Block Drug Price Disclosure for Online and Television Commercials

A lobbying group associated with the cable and internet industries teamed up with the Association of National Advertisers and pharmaceutical companies in an effort to undo a new regulation that required all drug companies to advertise with prices included on their television or online commercials. Drug companies must disclose list prices of medications that cost more than $35 for a month’s supply.   The move was part of President Donald Trump’s multilevel blueprint to encourage transparency for American patients and to lower drug prices.

As you may already know, drug prices can be a scary thing, so pharmaceutical companies may not want to scare people away from buying their drugs with their television or online ads. That’s understood. But the cost of medicine is a top concern for everyone, and something should be done about it. In fact, the most common advertised drugs cost an average of $535 to $11,000 a month or throughout the length of treatment. A recent study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 1 in 3 Americans don’t take their medications because they simply can’t afford it.

Pharmaceutical companies currently spend over $4 billion on TV ads because is their most impactful form of marketing. The new disclosure doesn’t apply to radio ads or print ads. The government hopes this approach will somehow pressure drug makers to lower their prices.

While most patients may not pay the full price as advertised on television, price is an important piece of information since it’s the foundation for negotiations between insurers and drugmakers. In other developed countries, the government negotiates drug prices to keep medications more affordable for everyone. In the U.S., except for the Veterans Affairs system, the government doesn’t set prices.

All drug manufacturers as well, as the Association of National Advertisers, had sued to block the mandate because they believe the Health and Human Services agency should not have the power to impose the rule. In the meantime, the White House is appealing the District Court’s decision – they say the government has power when it comes to administering Medicare and Medicaid.

The Internet & Television Association said the new mandate is a violation of their free speech rights – in violation of the First Amendment rights. There is a debate going on about how forcing companies to advertise their prices is not important since it defers with what consumers will actually pay. But if the new bill isn’t that bothersome, why are they suing against it?  Some food for thought here.

So, should prescription drug ads include information about wholesale prices? Many people believe that the trend towards transparency should continue.

Sources
  • https://www.kpihp.org/blog/its-time-to-change-drug-companies-harmful-marketing-practices/

  • https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/hospitals-health-systems/comments-roll-proposal-to-require-drug-prices-ads

  • The path to true transparency

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