U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) have recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral (House & Senate) legislation to require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the price of their drugs in advertisements.
Advertising expenses by drug manufacturers have more than quadrupled over the past two decades — rising from $1.3 billion spent on 79,000 ads in 1997 to $6 billion spent on 4.6 million ads in 2016. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), prescription drugs advertised directly to consumers account for 58 percent of Medicare’s spending on drugs. As a result, an American sees an average of nine pharmaceutical advertisements each day — often steering patients to more expensive drugs, even when a low-cost generic is available. Most countries have banned direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising altogether — the United States and New Zealand are the only countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising.
The bipartisan Drug-Price Transparency for Consumers Act would require direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertisements to include a disclosure of pricing information. Specifically, the legislation would amend the Social Security Act to allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require that pharmaceutical advertisements disclose the wholesale cost for a 30-day supply or typical course of treatment of the drug, clearly present the price information, and explain that pricing may vary depending on insurance coverage. Additionally, the bill would subject advertisers to a penalty of up to $100,000 for each violation.
On the other side of the Capitol, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) lead the U.S. Senate version of the Drug-Price Transparency for Consumers Act (S.1250).
The Senior Citizens League is pleased to have endorsed this important legislation, and we will fight for its passage in Congress.