When the Trump administration announced in May its “blueprint” to lower prescription drug prices — called American Patients First — we were skeptical. Of note in the plan was a proposal to force drug manufacturers to include drug pricing in advertising. At the time, we dismissed it as “not likely to happen anytime soon — if at all.”

It’s Alive
Three months later, the proposal seems to still have legs. In an August 1 Fierce Pharma article, author Beth Snyder Bulik noted, “Over the past couple of weeks, the idea has gained steam — and bipartisan backing, including from Democrats often critical of the president. So much so, in fact, that a bill containing the provision could see a Senate vote this week.”

Pharma industry orgs like the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and others oppose the provision, including among their reasons that showing drug prices in advertisements might have the undesired effect of deterring patients from seeking treatment with a particular drug because they think they can’t afford it.

Intouch Group executive vice president Wendy Blackburn said in a New York Times article that she feared the provision to include pricing “would be more confusing than helpful to consumers” because consumers’ perceptions could be skewed. “If a consumer has a choice of five drugs and one is more expensive,” she added, “the consumer may think the more expensive drug is the better drug.”

Furthermore, as Intouch vice president of market access Peter Weissberg has noted, “The ‘cost’ of medications is not what the consumer actually pays based upon the way the larger healthcare system works (e.g., employer-based health insurance, drug wholesalers, retail pharmacy, etc.).”

PhRMA also noted in its 130-page response to the proposal that requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose list prices may not even be constitutional.

So Where Are We Now?
We’re still in wait-and-see mode, but now with a little less skepticism. Like the Boy Scouts, we recommend being prepared for any outcome. If you’d like to be prepared — of course you’d like to be prepared — but aren’t sure where to start, get in touch with your account team today.