The 15th of October turned into a day of dueling proposals on the best way for pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide consumers with more information on medication prices. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) tells AIS Health that it sees merit in the federal government’s approach, while the pharma industry’s plan falls short.
It began with a pre-emptive strike in the morning when the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America (PhRMA), stressing its commitment to price transparency, issued a press release.
The pharma lobbying group said all its member companies voluntarily agreed to take a new approach to direct-to-consumer television advertising that will "soon" direct patients on where to find "information about medicine costs, including the list price of the medicine, out-of-pocket costs or other context about the potential cost of the medicine and available financial assistance."
Its only specific example of where such information might be placed was on a "company-developed website."
On the afternoon of Oct. 15, CMS issued a proposed rule that would require prescription drug manufacturers to post the Wholesale Acquisition Cost for drugs covered in Medicare or Medicaid in direct-to-consumer television ads.
The HHS secretary would keep a public list of drugs advertised in violation of the rule, which would provide an exception to the posting requirement for drugs with list prices under $35 per month.
"We do see this as another positive move the administration is taking to bring drug prices down to earth," AHIP spokesperson Kristine Grow said Oct. 22. "We don't think PhRMA's proposal goes far enough…and requiring consumers to go to a website is not in the best interests of transparency," she adds.
"Our perspective is knowing the list price through an advertisement just helps patients have better conversations with their doctor — and we think pricing should be an important part of the conversation with that doctor," Grow says.
Currently, direct-to-consumer ads by drugmakers are pushing such discussions outside of the doctor-patient relationship, Grow asserts.