Trump administration battles to force drugmakers to post prices in TV spots

By | August 22, 2019

The Department of Health and Human Services is fighting to preserve a rule requiring companies to list drug prices in TV ads.

On Wednesday, HHS said it would seek to reverse a federal judge’s decision to block the rule. The agency submitted a notice of appeal to the DC district court in an effort to revive the May rule that Secretary Azar called the “single most significant step” any administration has taken to inform the public about drug costs.

The rule would force drug companies to disclose list prices for drugs that cost more than $ 35 each month and that are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. “Big Pharma” drug companies companies fired back at the Trump administration, arguing that list prices are not indicative of what patients actually pay for their drugs because they do not take into account rebates and discounts.

The rule was meant to be implemented July 9, but District Judge Amit Mehta sided with three pharmaceutical manufacturers, Amgen, Merck, and Eli Lilly, in a July 8 decision that HHS does not have the authority to implement such a rule.

“To be clear, the court does not question HHS’s motives in adopting the” rule, Mehta wrote. “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.”

An appeal would give the Trump administration a second chance at enacting a rule that Pharma, the trade association representing drugmakers, has called confusing for consumers, who still would not know how much they would owe at the pharmacy.

“President Trump and Secretary Azar are committed to providing patients the information they need to make their own informed healthcare decisions and to lower the high cost of prescription drugs,” HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said. “It’s time for drug companies to level with American patients about the cost of their drugs: If the drug companies are embarrassed by their prices or afraid that the prices will scare patients away, they should lower them.”