Durbin Highlights Bipartisan Amendment To Take On Big Pharma, Require Disclosure Of Drug Prices In TV Ads

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital to tout his bipartisan Senate-passed amendment requiring pharmaceutical companies to list prices of their prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements. The amendment helps to empower patients, promote transparency, and lower prescription drug costs, and it was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Angus King (I-ME). The provision was included in the Senate’s Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill and the Congressional conference committee is scheduled to meet later this week to finalize the legislation.

“This drug pricing proposal is supported by both Democratic and Republican senators, the AARP, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, 76 percent of the American people, President Donald Trump, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The only group who opposes it? Big Pharma,” Durbin said. “The purpose of this amendment is to give the American people more information about drug costs. More information gives transparency to the transaction, and will help give American consumers a break and start to slow down the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.” 

Last year, the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $6 billion in DTC advertisements, which drive up health care costs by steering patients towards more expensive, often unnecessary medications. 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 these reasons, most countries have banned DTC prescription drug advertising, with the United States and New Zealand being the only two developed countries that allow it. The American Medical Association has called for a ban on DTC prescription drug advertisements, as well as mandatory price disclosure as part of prescription drug marketing. 

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 direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising and in marketing to prescribers.

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