Earlier on Monday, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry's top US lobbying group, announced that its members would include directions in their commercials for patients to find information about the potential price of medicines, such as company websites.
The U.S. government, in an effort to increase pressure on drugmakers to lower costs for U.S. consumers, said on Monday it will propose requiring companies to include the price of their prescription medicines in television ads.
President Trump has repeatedly vowed to address the rising cost of medicine and called on top manufacturers to lower their prices. Drugs with list prices under $35 per month will be exempt from the requirement.
The trade group has argued that requiring list prices on ads could confuse patients and perhaps discourage some from seeking needed treatment.
On a call with reporters, PhRMA executives made it clear they believed a government mandate on drugmakers to disclose only the full list prices directly in their television ads would violate the First Amendment as "compelled speech".
He noted that many patients don't necessarily pay the list price at the counter. "Patients deserve to know what a given drug could cost when they're being told about the benefits and risks it may have".
Specifically, all DTC television advertising by drug companies "that identifies a prescription medicine by name should include direction as to where patients can find information about the cost of the medicine, such as a company-developed website, including the list price and average, estimated or typical patient out-of-pocket costs, or other context about the potential cost of the medicine".
"Companies will determine today what they will determine as the prices", Zirkelbach said.
He said the argument that people don't care about list prices is the same as the argument that vehicle dealerships made back in the 1950s when being forced to put sticker prices on cars.
Azar quickly responded to the PhRMA announcement, stating that the administration would not back off its plan. "Our vision for a new, more transparent drug-pricing system does not rely on voluntary action", declared Azar in a statement.
"The drug industry remains resistant to providing real transparency around their prices, including the sky-high list prices that many patients pay", Azar said.
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"It will give consumers a data point that is now unavailable".
President Trump has said those drug companies are "getting away with murder".
The spike in drug costs for USA consumers, particularly seniors, was a 2016 campaign issue for President Donald Trump, who promised that he would lower costs for most Americans.
It's unclear if requiring companies to include price information in advertisements will impact how much patients pay for drugs.
"People still get discounts when they go to purchase a auto, but sticker prices are considered an important piece of needed consumer information", he said.
Those list prices are the starting point for drugmakers' negotiations with middlemen, such as insurance companies and prescription benefit managers.
"Giving consumers pricing information in drug advertising will empower them to have more informed conversations with their doctor about the best approach to improve their health and manage their medical conditions", Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans said in a comment.