Federal health regulators proposed rules Monday that would require drugmakers to disclose the list price of drugs that cost more than $35 a month in their television ads.
The plan, announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, would affect any drugs offered through the Medicare or Medicaid programs.
Drug companies currently are required to disclose the major side effects a drug can have.
“Patients deserve to know what a given drug could cost when they’re being told about the benefits and risks it may have,” Azar said. “They deserve to know if the drug company has pushed their prices to abusive levels. And they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV.”
Earlier Monday, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association said drugmakers would voluntarily disclose the list prices and copayments of the drugs they advertise on television on a new website beginning in the spring.
“Today’s announcement represents a big change for our companies, and it will require significant operational changes for individual companies to implement,” PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl said. “But we believe this is the right thing to do and is an important step toward providing patients with the information they want.”
Federal officials and other critics said the PhRMA plan didn’t go far enough.
“The impact of this is zero,” said Michael Rea, founder and CEO of software company RX Savings Solutions. “It’s not going to do anything.”
The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing called the PhRMA plan “a total joke.”
The advocacy group was far more positive about the federal plan.
“The Trump Administration made real progress toward ensuring consumers have the information they need to make the health care decisions that are best for them,” the campaign said in a statement.
David Mitchell, founder of nonprofit advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs, said even putting list prices in the actual ads – rather than on a separate website – wouldn’t reduce drug prices.
The Trump administration and Congress had asked drugmakers to provide cost information in drug advertisements. Ubl said the industry was “voluntarily stepping up to the plate.”
PhRMA said a survey showed consumers want more information about drug prices. Mitchell, who has multiple myeloma, dismissed the result.
“They didn’t ask the right question, which is ‘Do you want more information on drug prices or do you want lower drug prices?,’ ” Mitchell said. “That’s because PhRMA doesn’t want the answer.”
PhRMA says it is working with groups representing consumers, patients, pharmacists and providers to develop the new website for drug price transparency.
The groups include the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Medical Association, which represents African-American doctors and their patients.