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New proposal calls for drug costs to be included in TV ads

Posted: 3:33 PM, Oct 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-16 19:33:11Z

Prescription drug ads are on every channel, and with them come the laundry list of side effects tacked on at the end of every TV spot. Now, in addition to listing those side effects, you could soon be hearing about the costs.

A new proposal from the Trump administration would force manufacturers to state a drug's list price in any TV advertisement.

It was a goal first laid out by Human and Health Services Secretary Alex Azar back in May.

"If we wanna have a real market for drugs, why not have them disclose their prices in the ads too?” asked Azar. “Consumers would have more balanced info and companies would have incentives for setting their prices…"

Experts on drug pricing, like John Hopkins University's Gerard Anderson, say it’s about time.

"If you’re buying a TV, they'll tell you what a TV costs. If the grocery store’s having a sale, they’ll say how much oranges cost. This is something that should be and is just long overdue in the pharma industry,” Anderson says.

Pharmaceutical companies have pushed back via their trade group, which said that posting prices on TV could be "misleading or confusing.” Their proposal was to, instead, tell consumers that pricing information could be found on the drug's website.

"The problem is that most of us would never go to their website to look up that information,” Anderson explains. “And the FDA would have to monitor closely the info on their site and that could change daily. So, it’s really not a viable option."

The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days, and even if it goes into effect after that, industry experts say they're likely to face many legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry.