May 9, 2019 -- In response to public demands for action to control drug costs, the top U.S. health official says TV ads for prescription drugs will soon have to include prices.
Regulations requiring drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month's supply have been finalized, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
The prices are expected to appear in text toward the end of TV commercials, when potential side effects are being listed. The new policy, which could take effect as early as this summer, covers all brand name drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which is nearly all medications.
The drug industry opposes the move, saying companies prefer to list prices on their websites, the AP reported.
"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."
Azar also said the Trump administration is willing to consider permitting Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from other countries if it can be shown to be safe and to actually help patients save money, the AP reported.
The latest government figures show that the prices of the 10 most widely advertised drugs range from $488 to $16,938 per month or for a usual course of therapy.
Policies such as disclosing prices won't make drug companies lower their prices, say Democrats, who want Medicare to negotiate on behalf of patients, the AP reported.