Durbin, Grassley Statement On Appeals Court Ruling Striking Down HHS Policy To Require Disclosure Of Prescription Drug Prices In TV Ads

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today released the following statement regarding the ruling in the federal Court of Appeals for D.C. that struck down a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule that required direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertisements to include the list price of the drug:

“Even in the midst of a pandemic that threatens all of us, Big Pharma fought for months in court to prevent patients from knowing the price of their drug.  Look no further than this lawsuit to understand what matters most to the pharmaceutical industry. If Big Pharma wants to bludgeon American consumers with ad after ad about their products, the least they could do is disclose what that product costs. We will continue to advance our bipartisan legislation to get American patients the information they deserve to hear about drug prices.”

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.  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.  The 20 top-advertised drugs on TV cost Medicare and Medicaid $34 billion in 2018.

In May 2019, Durbin and Grassley, along with Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), introduced the bipartisan Drug-price Transparency in Communications (DTC) Act to codify the HHS regulation at the subject of yesterday’s litigation, which would require pharmaceutical companies to list prices of their prescription drugs in DTC advertisements.  The bill would ensure 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 several years, including a similar amendment that passed the Senate unanimously in August 2018, but was ultimately removed from the Defense-Labor-HHS-Education appropriations “minibus” package.

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