Durbin Calls On Congress To Pass Legislation To Require Disclosure Of Prescription Drug Prices In TV Ads

Durbin Has Led Drug Price Transparency Effort Since 2017 With Senate Passage In 2018

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today made a unanimous consent (UC) request to immediately pass his bipartisan Drug-price Transparency in Communications (DTC) Act, a bill he introduced in May with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the prices of their prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements.  Durbin’s bipartisan legislation would empower patients and lower prescription drug spending by bringing transparency when Big Pharma chooses to fill the airwaves with drug ads. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) objected.

“Now who opposes this? Who would oppose disclosing the price of [a] drug? I'll bet you're guessing…the pharmaceutical industry. And you're right. They are looking for one Senator who will object to what I'm offering,” Durbin said. “The bottom line is this: If you believe consumers in America have a right to know the cost of [a] drug, if you believe that the pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to disclose it, if you believe that high prescription drug prices are unfair, and costing a lot more in our health care system than they should, then support this basic measure that passed the Senate last year without one negative voice.”

Durbin and Grassley passed a similar version of this bill unanimously in the Senate in August 2018, which was ultimately removed in an appropriations conference with the House of Representatives.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

The pharmaceutical industry spends $6 billion each year to flood the airwaves with drug ads in order to steer patients to specific, high-cost drugs regardless of whether the patient needs it or not, or a generic is available.  The average American sees nine DTC prescription drug ads each day.  Studies show that patients are more likely to ask their doctor for a specific brand-name medication, and doctors are more likely to prescribe one, when they have been marketed directly with drug advertisements.  For this reason, most countries have banned DTC drug ads—only the United States and New Zealand permit this practice.  As a result, the 20 top-advertised drugs on TV cost Medicare and Medicaid $27 billion in 2017.

The Durbin-Grassley legislation is supported by eighty-eight percent of Americans, and has been endorsed by AARP, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing.