Drugmakers pledged to redirect consumers to a website showing where to find the list price of a drug in a TV ad, just as the Trump administration was expected to issue a regulation to force companies to put the price in their TV ads.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the top drug lobbying group, said on Monday that all 33 of its members committed to making a website and including a link in their ads. The new initiative appears to be an effort to get ahead of an expected announcement Monday on the Trump administration’s effort to force drugmakers to list the price in ads.
“The ad itself, either through voice-over or text, will direct the patient to a company-specific website that will include the list price of the medicine, estimated out of pocket cost, and other information,” PhRMA president Steve Ubl said on a call with reporters on Monday.
He said that the company has done research to show that including only the list price will be confusing to patients.
“We believe just including list prices would not be sufficient,” he said. “List prices alone without additional context could discourage patients form seeking medical care.”
[Previous coverage: Susan Collins expresses doubt on Trump proposal to post drug prices on ads]
Ubl said that he hopes the initiative to be fully implemented by April 2019, although some of its members may create the website earlier.
Politico reported on Friday that the administration is poised to publish a proposed rule on forcing the disclosure of list prices soon. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is expected to make an address on drug pricing on Monday afternoon.
The regulation would be a part of the administration’s drug pricing blueprint released in May. The administration believes that drugmakers should be more forthcoming about the cost of their products to provide more transparency for consumers.
But PhRMA is hoping that its voluntary initiative, which for now only applies to its own members, may put off the need for any regulation.
“This is a voluntary initiative designed to meet the concerns raised by the administration,” Ubl said.
There remain significant questions, however, on the content of the website that includes the list price. For instance, it remains unclear how companies will put together the “average” out-of-pocket cost for a consumer for their product.
Ubl said he couldn’t get into specifics because of antitrust concerns, but said the site is “expected to include the list price or estimate on [a] range of particular out of pocket costs and range of in-patient assistance.”
Azar didn't appear to be too convinced in a statement he made after the initiative was rolled out. He said the initiative was a "step in the right direction, "we will go further and continue to implement the President’s blueprint to deliver new transparency and put American patients first.”