Drugmakers Sue To Block Federal Rule Requiring Drug Prices In TV Ads (#GotBitcoin?)
Lawsuit says rule will create unnecessary confusion, may discourage patients from seeking treatment or medical information. Drugmakers Sue To Block Federal Rule Requiring Drug Prices In TV Ads (#GotBitcoin?)
Three pharmaceutical companies sued the federal government Friday to block a proposal requiring drug manufacturers include the list price of prescription drugs in television ads, the latest volley by the industry as it faces criticism over escalating cost of its products.
The lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, filed jointly in U.S. District Court by Amgen Inc., Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Co. and the Association of National Advertisers, alleges that the proposed rule violates the First Amendment by compelling drugmakers to communicate list prices in TV ads.
The companies and trade organization allege the agency lacks the authority to enact the mandate, according to the complaint. And they say the rule will create unnecessary confusion among patients and may discourage them from seeking treatment or medical information. The complaint says that few of the 65 million Americans on Medicaid pay more than an $8 copay for prescription drugs.
The proposed rule was finalized in May by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is set to take effect in July. It is among the efforts by the Trump administration to make health care more affordable in the U.S. Officials also want to stop billions of dollars in annual rebates that drugmakers give middlemen in Medicare that are known as pharmacy-benefit managers.
The government has said the proposed rule would increase transparency around prices and allow patients to make informed decisions based on cost. Government officials also have said the rule could spur drug companies to reduce prices.
President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar are committed to providing patients the information they need to make their own informed health-care decisions, agency spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in response to the lawsuit. “If the drug companies are embarrassed by their prices or afraid that the prices will scare patients away, they should lower them,” she said.
The lawsuit wasn’t entirely a surprise given the resistance the industry signaled last year when the rule was proposed. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America—the industry’s main trade group, or PhRMA— had said the rule could lead some patients to think they have to pay the full list price, rather than a copay or coinsurance if they have insurance.
The trade group announced its own initiative in which major drugmakers would voluntarily include price-related information in television ads by directing consumers to websites where they can find information on list prices and costs. Few patients pay “list” prices, which don’t take into account rebates, discounts and insurance payments, but some pay the full price at times, such as when they haven’t met their deductible.
Johnson & Johnson , the world’s largest health-care company, adopted the PhRMA principles but went a step further. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based firm has been airing a television ad for its Xarelto blood thinner by briefly showing its list price at the end of the ad.
Pharmaceutical ads on television have become a common occurrence since they began airing two decades ago. The spots have also become a lightning rod in attacks on the drug industry, its marketing and pricing. Critics say the commercials encourage use of expensive medicines, when less-costly generics may suffice.
Indianapolis-based Lilly said in a statement that it has already taken steps in its TV ads and website to share more pricing information. It said focusing on the list price “creates confusion because it’s not the price most patients will pay.”
Merck, which is based in Kenilworth, N.J., said in a statement that the new requirements may cause patients not to seek treatment because of a perception they can’t afford treatments. Drugmakers Sue To Block, Drugmakers Sue To Block, Drugmakers Sue To Block
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