Pharmaceutical Companies Suing Over New Policy Requiring Drug Pricing in TV Ads

Pharmaceutical companies Amgen, Merck and Eli Lilly, along with the Association of National Advertisers, are suing the Trump administration over a new policy requiring that manufacturers include the list price of medicines in TV ads.

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The rule — which was finalized in May and is set to go into effect this summer — applies to medicines for which the price for a month’s supply (or the usual course of therapy) before rebates and discounts is more than $35. The move is part of an effort to lower drug prices in the United States.

Shortly after the administration proposed the policy, drug companies began to argue that list prices of medicines do not accurately indicate what an individual patient will pay, due to the differences between insurers, providers, assistance programs and more, and to suggest that the policy violates the First Amendment.

According to STAT, legal scholars are split over whether the policy violates the First Amendment — an issue that has scuttled past Food and Drug Administration rulings.

Instead of clarifying pricing for patients, the lawsuit contends, the rule “will instead frustrate it by misleading patients about their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs in a manner that even HHS admits may ‘confuse’ and ‘intimidate’ patients.”

“We believe the new requirements may cause patients to decide not to seek treatment because of their perception that they cannot afford their medications, when in fact many patients do not pay anything near list price,” Merck said in a statement.

“If the drug companies are embarrassed by their prices or afraid that the prices will scare patients away, they should lower them,” stated Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley. “President Trump and Secretary Azar are committed to providing patients the information they need to make their own informed health-care decisions.”

Want to learn more about the ruling? Read “Drug Prices to Be Required in Television Ads.”

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