The Trump Administration has announced that drug makers will be required to disclose the cost of prescription medication in television commercials. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar says the new regulation will give more power to consumers by giving them access to "vastly more information to choose among different therapies and pick the most affordable one for them."
"Requiring the inclusion of drugs' list prices in TV ads is the single most significant step any administration has taken toward a simple commitment: American patients deserve to know the prices of the healthcare they receive," Azar said.
The new regulation will only apply to medication that costs more than $35 for a month's supply. According to ABC News, the ten drugs that are most commonly advertised on television have list prices between $535 to $11,000 per month.
The pharmaceutical industry spends around four billion dollars per year on television advertising, and Azar hopes that the new requirement will spur patients to discuss cheaper treatment options with their doctor.
Stacie B. Dusetzina, Associate Professor Health Policy at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told NBC News that while she thinks the regulation is a good idea, it may not do much to lower the cost of medications and is worried the high prices could prevent people from seeking treatment.
"Telling people what the price is doesn't change the price. Instead, we would need reform to price setting or related to how patient payments are set," she explained. "The downsides are that you could potentially dissuade people from seeking treatment. For example, if you're hearing Chantix is nearly $500 for a month of therapy you might not talk to your doctor to quit smoking,"
Azar says that if the new regulation causes people not to seek treatment over the high cost, then it is up the drug makers to lower their prices.
"What I say to the companies is if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your prices," Azar said. "Transparency for American patients is here."
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