The American Medical Association is considering several measures to combat high drug prices, including support for Medicare to negotiate prices and asking federal regulators to require that drugmakers advertise the suggested retail price of their products.
The AMA's house of delegates, the group's main policy-making body made up of 555 members, is meeting this week in Chicago. On Sunday, a majority of the House voiced support of the proposals, despite concerns that the powerful lobbying group might be overstepping its reach by asking the federal government to impose price controls.
"There are some big traps in this if we're not careful," said a Texas delegate on the issue. "As soon as we start demanding price controls from the government on one section of healthcare it will lead to price controls on other parts of healthcare."
The AMA's house of delegates is expected to vote on several resolutions that target the rising costs of medications, which can be especially stressful to the impoverished.
"Pharmaceutical prices are completely out of control and that are a public health menace," said a delegate from New England. "This is a public health emergency—let's make sure pharma gets a black eye."
One measure suggests that pharmaceutical companies list the manufacturer's suggested retail price on their consumer advertisements. The cost of advertised drugs has increased by 34.2% compared to a 5.1% increase for other products, according to the AMA.
Another proposal suggests lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would require drug makers to explain how they price their drugs, as well as disclose "research and development costs research and development costs." It would also ask for disclosures on the cost of manufacturing, advertising and marketing costs, total revenues and direct and indirect sales, and the unit price.
Drugmakers argue that research and development costs drive up prices and that transparency on those costs would do nothing to help affordability.
The AMA is considering advocating for laws that would require manufacturers to make disclose discounts and rebates, any offshoring of either jobs or profits, and any payments made to third parties, including wholesalers, group purchasing organizations, pharmacy benefit management companies and manage care organizations.
Another resolution supports legislation that would require drug makers to give public notice before increasing the wholesale price of any drug by 10% or more annually or per the course of treatment. Another measure supports the CMS negotiating drug prices.
One measure that was not widely supported by the AMA house of delegates called for the association to call for an "out of pocket" maximum of $500 a month per patient. Some members argue that calling for such limits simply shifts costs.
The AMA's resolutions on drug prices come as President Donald Trump, some in Congress and patient advocacy groups campaign for policies to rein in drug prices.
The AMA is also considering a resolution that addresses the rising cost of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug which has almost doubled in price of the last five years despite it being on the market since the 1970s.
The House of Delegates meeting is scheduled to convene through Wednesday.