The U.S government has recently proposed a new rule forcing drug makers to disclose prices for prescription medicines in their TV commercials. Sources suggest that the new proposal would include brand-name drugs, covered by the Medicare and Medicaid program, to disclose prices if a typical course of treatment costs more than $35 a month.
According to CBS News, the U.S. drug trade group, PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), said that it was willing to disclose drug price on websites, but not on TV commercials as it could discourage patients from seeking the much required medical treatments.
Reportedly, PhRMA member companies’ direct-to-consumer television advertisements have agreed to direct patients to information about medicine costs, including the list price of the medicine, out-of-pocket costs or any other drug related information and available financial assistance via the website.
However, Alex Azar, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary seems to disagree with PhRMA’s decision, saying that they appreciate PhRMA’s effort, but putting the prices on a website isn’t the same thing as patients deserve to know cost of drugs on commercials as well.
Sources close to the matter claim that, under the proposed rule, a company would have to advertise the price for a standard course of treatment for medication such as antibiotics, or the 30-day cost for drugs required to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Criticizing the new rule, PhRMA said that an attempt to force companies to publish prices would effectively violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights of free speech.
Meanwhile HHS claims that most of patients in the U.S. don’t pay a drug’s full retail price, though insurance companies use the amount to establish the base patients’ copayments. Irrespective of patients with high deductibles or no insurance who do pay the full price, nearly half of Americans citizens are currently in high-deductible health plans, the agency cites.