Trump administration revives bid to get drug list prices on TV ads
The Trump administration is not giving up just yet. On Wednesday, the HHS filed an appeal against a judge’s decision in July to overturn a ruling obligating drug manufacturers to disclose the list price of their therapies in television adverts — hours before it was stipulated to go into effect.
In May, the HHS published a final ruling requiring drugmakers to divulge the wholesale acquisition cost— of a 30-day supply of the drug — in tv ads in a bid to enhance price transparency in the United States. The pharmaceutical industry has vehemently opposed the rule, asserting that list prices are not what a typical patient in the United States pays for treatment — that number is typically determined by the type of (or lack thereof) insurance coverage, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. Although there is truth to that claim, the move was considered symbolic in the Trump administration’s healthcare agenda to hold drugmakers accountable in a climate where skyrocketing drug prices have incensed Americans on both sides of the aisle.
A DC federal judge in early July quashed the ruling at the behest of a trifecta of drugmakers: Merck $MRK, Eli Lilly $LLY and Amgen $AMGN, in addition to the National Association of Advertisers, a trade association. They argued that the rule eclipsed HHS’s authority because Congress “neither expressly nor impliedly granted HHS the power under the Social Security Act to regulate drug marketing” and contended that compelled speech violated the First Amendment.
The court agreed that the HHS does not have the statutory authority to implement the drug price disclosure ruling. Although the court does not take “any view on the wisdom of requiring drug companies to disclose prices. That policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs. But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized,” it concluded.
Trump has long lambasted the pharmaceutical industry for its pricing policies. After capturing the presidency, Trump proclaimed drugmakers were “getting away with murder.” His administration has since unveiled a string of proposals to temper pricing, including one last year engineered to peg drug prices to overseas rates for Medicare beneficiaries.
As he mounts his re-election bid for 2020, Trump has suggested that an executive order is being prepared to implement a “favored nations clause” to reduce drug prices in the United States. US lawmakers are also pushing to import drugs from Canada, but a Reuters report revealed Canadian officials aren’t exactly receptive to the idea, suggesting the move might threaten the country’s drug supply or raise costs for its own citizens.