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Trump administration orders drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads

Trump administration orders drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Pharmaceutical companies will have to disclose drug prices in television commercials in the U.S. for the first time as the Trump administration begins to put in place a plan to lower prescription costs.

The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule Wednesday that would require drugmakers to disclose a drug’s cost if its price before rebates and discounts is above $35 for a month’s supply or the usual course of therapy. The rule is the first move by regulators to implement a blueprint to lower drug prices laid out last year by President Trump.

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“Patients who are struggling with high drug costs are in that position because of the high list prices that drug companies set,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement unveiling the rule. “Making those prices more transparent is a significant step in President Trump’s efforts to reform our prescription drug markets and put patients in charge of their own healthcare.”

The rule, first announced in October, will go into effect 60 days after it’s published, which could come as soon as Friday, Azar said on a conference call with reporters.

Drugmakers had started disclosing prices online, with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America urging members to redirect patients watching TV ads to the websites, which discuss different pricing scenarios rather than just the list price.

The trade association said the rule would give patients watching TV the false impression that they’re required to pay the full price and that the ads would deter patients from seeking treatment. The group also said the proposal would violate the 1st Amendment by compelling commercial speech.

The rule will apply to drugs that are covered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

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