Big Drug Makers Sue to Block Mandatory Price Disclosures in TV Ads: Brainstorm Health

Happy Friday, readers!

In what may be one of the least unexpected lawsuits against a proposed federal rule in recent history, drug giants Merck, Eli Lilly, Amgen, and the Association of National Advertisers are challenging the Trump administration’s bid to require TV drug advertisements to include the products’ list prices.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized the proposed rule in May. It would force pharmaceutical companies to publicize a treatment’s list price tag but has been criticized by the industry for alleged shortcomings and free speech concerns.

Amgen outlined some of those protestations in a statement on Friday. “Not only does the rule raise serious freedom of speech concerns, it mandates an approach that fails to account for differences among insurance, treatments and patients themselves, by requiring disclosure of list price,” the company said in a statement. “Most importantly, it does not answer the fundamental question patients are asking: ’What will I have to pay for my medicine?”

The latter issue has been raised by several organizations who note that list prices aren’t the same thing as the net prices that patients pay. However, others retort that it’s a still an important move toward a more transparent drug advertising process, and that the industry opposition is yet another case of health care sector hot potato pointing the blame for high prices at other links in the supply chain.

Some companies have taken a different approach. For instance, Johnson & Johnson recently became the first firm to voluntarily disclose a drug’s list price in its ads for the popular blood thinner Xarelto; to mitigate some of the concerns listed in the new pharma lawsuit against the mandatory disclosures, J&J decided to list both the list price and the common out of pocket costs usually owed by consumers.

It’s worth remembering that the U.S. in one of the only countries in the world that allows direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising at all.

Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.

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