WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is moving ahead with its proposal to require drug companies to disclose the often sky-high prices of their products in television commercials, despite strenuous objections and the threat of legal challenges by drugmakers and TV broadcasters.
The White House is reviewing the text of a final rule to impose the requirement, contending that the disclosures “will provide manufacturers with an incentive to reduce their list prices by exposing overly costly drugs to public scrutiny.”
President Donald Trump has rolled back dozens of Obama-era regulations affecting financial services, energy and the environment. But he has been willing to impose new rules to rein in what he describes as outrageously high drug prices, and administration officials say these efforts will be politically popular.
In a poll last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 9 in 10 Americans said they supported requiring drug companies to include list prices in their advertisements. Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to favor it.
Trump vowed in the Rose Garden of the White House last May that he would “bring soaring drug prices back down to earth.”
The administration wants drugmakers to disclose the list prices of drugs in TV advertisements, and in many ads, the sticker shock could be considerable. Two dosing pens of Humira, AbbVie’s heavily advertised rheumatoid arthritis and chronic plaque psoriasis medication, have an average retail price of $5,684, according to the website GoodRx, which tracks drug prices. Xeljanz, a Pfizer arthritis medication in heavy television rotation, costs about $80 a pill. Cosentyx, a Novartis medication for psoriasis, has a list price that amounts to $67,325 a year, the company said.
Drug companies say such information would be misleading in an advertisement because most consumers pay less than the list price, and they are lobbying the White House in an effort to kill or delay the rule.
“Requiring list price disclosures could result in increased consumer confusion and may potentially deter patients from seeking care,” Robert Jones, a senior vice president for U.S. government relations at Pfizer, said in a recent letter to Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company where Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar was once a top executive, said, “Many patients may incorrectly surmise that they are required to pay the full list price, rather than a copay or coinsurance.”
Drugmakers spent nearly $4.5 billion on TV advertising of prescription drugs last year, according to Kantar Media, an ad tracking company.