New rule will require drug prices in TV ads

May 9, 2019

Despite widespread industry objections, federal regulators have created a new rule requiring that list prices for drugs be included in direct-to-consumer ads.

This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the rule will apply to any medications with a list price of $35 a month or more. Currently, the monthly list price for 10 of the most frequently advertised drugs ranges from $488 to over $16,000. 

The rule will go into effect in about 60 days. HHS said that it will be enforced via lawsuits from competitors who can sue pharma companies for false advertising if they fail to include list prices in their ads (which would suggest it is lower than $35 a month). 

The rule has been under discussion for several months and faced sharp criticisms from industry stakeholders. Pharma lobbyists have argued that disclosing list prices is misleading because costs are generally recouped by insurance. There are also concerns that it could discourage patients from seeking needed medical care. 

But under the rule, pharma companies will be allowed to include language indicating that the true costs will vary depending on insurance coverage. The Trump administration has also included the rule in his “blueprint” for lowering the costs of prescription drugs.

Read the full Reuters report.