The war of words between Big Pharma and the Trump administration over soaring drug prices escalated last week with a pair of dueling news releases.
Hours before the CMS issued a proposed regulation on price transparency, the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced modifications to its voluntary guidelines on direct-to-consumer advertising. Mainly, PhRMA members will nudge consumers toward online resources to find pricing information.
The CMS is advancing its own course of action. A proposed rule released Oct. 15 would force drug manufacturers to post list prices directly in TV ads. The move comes barely a month after President Donald Trump signed legislation banning so-called gag clauses, which prohibited pharmacies from telling patients if they would save money by paying out-of-pocket for drugs in lieu of their plans' co-payments.
While eliminating the gag clause and forcing pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose list prices in TV spots will not bring unsustainable drug pricing under control by themselves, they represent the first tangible action at the federal level, said Scott Knoer, chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “I think there is value to having that information in the public eye. People have no idea what these therapies cost,” said Knoer, citing Bausch Health's toenail fungus drug Jublia, which can cost $10,000 to $20,000 for a full course of therapy. “Transparency is critical for driving potential solutions.”