Three U.S. drug makers filed a lawsuit to block a new government regulation that would force them to include the prices of their prescription drugs in television ads.
According to the lawsuit, the new rule would mislead patients about how much they have to pay for prescription drugs.
“The impetus for the lawsuit is drug prices in TV ads, but the crux of it is HHS [Health and Human Services] not having the authority to mandate this action,” said Eli Lilly in a statement. “Not only does the rule exceed the department’s statutory authority and raise freedom of speech concerns, the focus on a medicine’s list price creates confusion because it’s not the price most patients will pay.”
One of President Donald Trump’s goals since getting elected is to lower drug prices. The new regulation that was announced last month is one of the first steps to doing just that. It requires drug makers to include the price for any medication that costs more than $35 for a month’s supply or the typical course of treatment.
“Requiring the inclusion of drugs’ list prices in TV ads is the single most significant step any administration has taken toward a simple commitment: American patients deserve to know the prices of the health care they receive,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said.
Experts, however, have argued that there may be no point to including drug prices on television ads because most people with insurance pay considerably less. They worry that including the prices might scare patients away from drugs they could actually afford with health insurance.
“Not only does the rule raise serious freedom of speech concerns, it mandates an approach that fails to account for differences among insurance, treatments and patients themselves, by requiring disclosure of list price,” Amgen said in a statement.
“If the drug companies are embarrassed by their prices or afraid that the prices will scare patients away, they should lower them,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in an emailed statement.