Lawmakers Block Amendment to Require Drug Pricing Information in Advertising

September 22, 2018
Samantha DiGrande

Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, a co-sponsor of the amendment, placed blame on pharmaceutical companies for using their influence to block the measure.

US lawmakers have been in a hurry this week to deliver the first set of 2019 appropriations bills to the President for approval. In an effort to deliver on a piece of the administration’s drug pricing blueprint, a bipartisan provision that would have required drug manufacturers to include list prices in direct-to-consumer television ads was expected to be included in the bill. The provision was subsequently blocked by House Republicans.

Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, a co-sponsor of the amendment, placed blame on pharmaceutical companies for using their influence to block the measure. “For some reason, someone on the other side is trying to block this common sense, truly bipartisan policy. When are we going to stand up to Big Pharma and actually do something about sky high prescription drug prices? Transparency in advertising is the very least Congress can do,” said Durbin, as reported in Regulatory Focus.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the other co-sponsor of the amendment, took to Twitter to announce his disappointment with the amendment’s exclusion, stating “It is EMBARRASSING to bow to BIG PHARMA at expense of consumers... If we can agree why are lobbyists fighting?”

Industry did indeed take issue with the amendment; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America(PhRMA) spoke out against the proposal in its July comments to HHS on the administration’s drug pricing blueprint, saying “FDA should not pursue any required disclose of list prices in direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. Such a requirement could confuse patients since the list price often does not represent what they would actually be required to pay.”

Exclusion of the amendment appears to counter public sentiment; a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 76% of the public supports the inclusion of list prices in television ads.

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