HHS Proposes New Law Requiring TV Ads for Pharmaceuticals List Their Prices


Have you noticed all the numerous items that must be stated in pharmaceutical advertising?  Well, that list just got a bit longer.

A new rule by federal regulators in the Department of Health and Human Services says that drug makers will now be required to disclose a drug’s cost in its advertising if the drug’s price before rebates and discounts is above $35 for a single month’s supply. This new rule, which will go into effect 60 days after it’s published, means that pharmaceutical companies will have to disclose drug prices in television commercials in the U.S. for the first time.  This is the first move by federal regulators to implement the plans for lowering drug prices that was laid out last year by President Donald Trump. 

“Patients who are struggling with high drug costs are in that position because of the high list prices that drug companies set,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said when he unveiled the new rule. “Making those prices more transparent is a significant step in President Trump’s efforts to reform our prescription drug markets and put patients in charge of their own health care.”

Drug makers have started to list their prices online, and many TV ads have been directing viewers to the drug manufacturer’s website for pricing information, a move that was encouraged by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PRMA).

PRMA slammed the new rule, however, arguing that it violates First Amendment rights by compelling commercial speech.  The trade agency is also concerned that stating the price on TV will confuse patients, giving them the false impression that they would be required to pay the full price (as opposed to those members with varying insurance plan costs and copays for pharmaceutical plans) and would therefore potentially deter potential patients from seeking treatment, which could be disastrous.