Trump’s Prescription Price Disclosure Proposal Is Mostly a Sideshow

Oct. 15, 2018

Trump’s Prescription Price Disclosure Proposal Is Mostly a Sideshow

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: Today, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar released a proposed rule that would require prescription corporations to disclose list prices in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements of medicines. In anticipation of the proposed rule, industry trade group PhRMA announced that it would not fully comply. Instead, beginning in April, its member companies will refer viewers elsewhere to find the information the Trump administration wants the companies to provide upfront.

The pro-wrestling match between the Trump administration and Big Pharma over prescription price disclosure is a sideshow.

Requiring such disclosure would help spotlight pharma’s price gouging, but industry executives are beyond shame. Even with this information, consumers, and to a large extent patients, have limited or no ability to choose an alternative product. This is due to the monopolies our government provides to prescription corporations, in the form of patents and other exclusivities, with virtually no conditions or restraints on abuse. The only real choice a patient often has is whether to go without a medicine she needs, which happens all too often.

And no reform is too small or sensible to escape PhRMA’s mighty fake wrath. PhRMA’s refusal to accept even the Trump administration’s proposed modicum of transparency should make it obvious that our leaders need to fight for real and much larger stakes.

The Trump administration should give up its charade of toughness and champion reforms that would bring meaningful relief to patients and consumers by leveraging government negotiation power, stopping price spikes and curbing monopoly abuses.

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