Pharmaceutical companies that advertise their prescription drugs on TV must now divulge how much the medication costs, according to a recently announced final rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The rule is designed to increase transparency within the pharmaceutical industry.
Drug companies funnel about $4 billion each year into television advertising to lure consumers to ask for their drugs by name. Often, patients suffer sticker shock when they arrive at their pharmacies to pay for the drugs. The goal of the final rule is that it will make drug makers rethink the hefty prices they’ve been saddling consumers with.
“If you’re ashamed of your drug prices, change your drug prices,” said Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It’s that simple.”
The rule, which goes into effect in July, requires all drug companies advertising prescription medications costing $35 or higher to include the following disclosure: “The list price for a [30-day supply of] [typical course of treatment with] [name of prescription drug or biological product] is [insert list price]. If you have health insurance that covers drugs, your costs may be different.”
List prices for rival drugs can be included in the ad as long as the information is truthful and not misleading. “Nothing in the rule would prevent the manufacturer from presenting additional contextual information,” the final rule states.
The announcement comes a year after President Donald Trump promised consumers that he would persuade drug makers to lower the prices of their medications, which have grown outrageously in recent years. Requiring drug companies to reveal the costs of their treatments in their television ads is one of the boldest move the administration has taken on this front.