Durbin Highlights New Requirement For Drug Companies To List Prices On Advertising

New rule follows years of legislative work from Durbin for increased transparency from Big Pharma

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined leaders from Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, the American Medical Association, and AARP to highlight the newly announced regulation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose prices of their prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements. This regulation builds upon years of Durbin’s legislative progress, and Durbin announced today that he and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) plan on introducing a bipartisan bill in the Senate next week to codify the rule to ensure its long-term implementation.

“For years, I have advanced legislation to crack down on Big Pharma’s drug ads – and I applaud HHS’s action to build off my bipartisan effort to give the American people more information about drug costs. With more than $6 billion spent annually to flood the airwaves with drug ads, patients are bombarded with information, but kept in the dark about the crucial factor: price,” Durbin said. “Patients deserve transparency – and Senator Grassley and I will continue the legislative work to see this rule implemented and provide American patients transparency to lower drug spending.” 

Durbin first introduced legislation in 2017 to require price tags from drug companies in their television advertisements, which empowers patients, promotes transparency, and lowers prescription drug costs. Last year, Durbin wrote letters to the eight pharmaceutical companies with the highest amount of DTC drug advertising (who each spend more than $100 million in television ads per year) urging them to voluntarily list their prices. He was later joined by Senator Grassley to unanimously pass a bipartisan amendment in the Senate to require this price disclosure in drug ads, but it was blocked by a single Republican in the House. Afterward, HHS Secretary Alex Azar picked up the effort and advanced it through regulation, resulting in the finalization of the rule on Wednesday.

Each year, drug manufacturers spend more than $6 billion to flood the airwaves with drug ads, resulting in the average American seeing nine drug ads each day. The 20 most-advertised drugs on television cost Medicare and Medicaid more than $24 billion in 2017. With billions in targeted spending, patients are bombarded with information about side effects but are kept in the dark on how much the drugs actually cost. 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.

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