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What a proposed federal rule requiring drug manufacturers to list prices in TV ads means for consumers




Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced yesterday a new policy regarding television ads for pharmaceuticals.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced yesterday a new policy regarding television ads for pharmaceuticals.
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The nation’s top health official announced yesterday a plan to require pharmaceutical companies to disclose in TV ads the list price of the drug being touted.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement during a speech yesterday in front of an audience at the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C. The proposed rule would mandate that drug manufacturers include the price of any drug that costs more than $35 a month in a “legible manner” at the end of the ad against a high contrast background that makes it easy to read. Azar and other proponents say that the move will make consumers more price-savvy, and that would slow the rise in pharmaceutical charges. But drugmakers claim including a list price would be deceptive, given few patients pay list. Typically, they pay a price negotiated by their insurer. Others say it’s not clear exactly how or why the new policy would drive down drug prices. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade group representing major drug manufacturers in the U.S. announced its own plan that it says will increase transparency of drug prices. The organization says its proposal would require member companies to direct consumers to a website at the end of TV ads where they could find more information on drug prices.

Will this strategy drive down drug prices, as the government suggests, or will it cause more confusion than clarity? How would the government enforce the new rule?

We reached out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and invited Secretary Alex Azar or another representative to join our discussion. They declined our request for comment.

Guests:

David Merritt, executive vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), industry group representing major health insurance providers

Robert Zirkelbach, executive vice president of public affairs for The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the major industry trade group for branded drugs



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