Durbin, Grassley Vow To Continue Push To Require Disclosure Of Drug Prices In TV Ads

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today released the following statements regarding a federal judge’s ruling that direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertisements do not have to include the list price of the drug.

“Apparently a little daylight is too much for Big Pharma. Rather than level with the American public about the sky-high cost of their drugs—when they run their non-stop ads—Pharma sued to block patients from knowing the price. A federal court agreed with Pharma this week, but this isn’t over. I believe Congress should step up and pass a law to require price disclosure. I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Grassley for swift passage of our bipartisan bill to provide patients with the information about drug prices they deserve,” Durbin said.   

“The ever-rising cost of prescription drugs is one of the most pressing problems in our health care system. Targeted, bipartisan solutions will provide real relief to patients and health care consumers. The direct-to-consumer price disclosure measure is a commonsense approach that will help reduce drug costs,” Grassley said.“There is a severe lack of transparency in the health care system. The DTC measure would shine a light on the outrageous cost of medications and give health care consumers information they need to make the best decision for their circumstance. Senator Durbin and I plan on renewing our push to provide a legislative solution to this problem by moving our bipartisan bill introduced earlier this year that would require this type of disclosure by federal law.”

Pharma 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.  The 20 top-advertised drugs on TV cost Medicare and Medicaid $24 billion in 2017.

In May, 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 May 2019 regulations announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to 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 two 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.