Durbin, Grassley, King, Alexander Introduce Legislation To Codify HHS Rule To Require Disclosure Of Prescription Drug Prices In TV Ads

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), today introduced bipartisan legislation to codify recent regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require pharmaceutical companies to list prices of their prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements.  Today’s legislation ensures long-term implementation and clarity of this common-sense price transparency requirement, and builds off Durbin and Grassley’s bipartisan legislative efforts over the past two years.

“In 2018, the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $6 billion to flood the airwaves with drug advertisements, which drive up health care costs by steering patients towards more expensive, often unnecessary medications.  They bombard us with information about the drug, but keep patients in the dark about the crucial factor: price,” Durbin said.  “Patients deserve transparency, and I am pleased to continue the partnership with Senator Grassley to codify and ensure long-term implementation of HHS’ recent rule.”

“Knowing what something costs before buying it is just common sense,” Grassley said.  “Including the list price of prescription drugs on TV advertisements is a no-nonsense way to empower health care consumers and make informed decisions about their care.  It also spurs competition, which leads to lower prescription drug costs.”

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 advertisement.

Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan amendment introduced by Durbin and Grassley to the Defense-Labor-HHS-Education appropriations “minibus” package that provides HHS with $1 million to implement rules requiring pharmaceutical companies to list prices of their prescription drugs in DTC advertisements.  The amendment aimed to help empower patients, promote transparency, and lower prescription drug costs.  Ultimately, the amendment was stripped from the bill during the House-Senate conference process.

In November 2017, Durbin introduced legislation that would require the pharmaceutical industry to provide more information about the cost of drugs in their advertisements.  The Drug-price Transparency in Communications (DTC) Act of 2017 would require drug companies to disclose the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of a prescription medication in DTC advertising and in marketing to prescribers.

The legislation has been endorsed by AARP, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing.