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Durbin Pushes for Senate Vote on Bill to Include Drug Prices in Ads

Posted 07 November 2019 | By Zachary Brennan 

Durbin Pushes for Senate Vote on Bill to Include Drug Prices in Ads

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to push for a vote on a bipartisan bill that would require pharmaceutical companies to list the prices of their prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements.

According to Durbin, the average American sees nine DTC drug ads each day and the pharmaceutical industry spends more than $6 billion per year on DTC ads.

Durbin and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) passed a similar version of this bill unanimously in the Senate in August 2018, but it was removed in an appropriations conference with the House of Representatives.
Now, however, Grassley notes that the Democrats control the House and if the Senate acts on the bill, which is also co-sponsored by Sens. Angus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), it could become law.

The latest push for such disclosures comes as US District Court Judge Amit Mehta in July ruled that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacks the authority to require drugmakers to post list prices in pharmaceutical DTC television advertisements.

Previously in June, Amgen, Merck, Eli Lilly and the Association of National Advertisers sued HHS over its pending rule that would have established such disclosures, claiming that the list prices are not what patients pay and that the agency does not have the authority for such a rulemaking.

Meanwhile, a research letter in JAMA from September, shows how states are continuing to push for further drug price transparency but with little success. Of 166 drug pricing laws identified in the study, 35 laws passed in 22 states and included a transparency component, but only seven laws passed in six states were deemed informative.

“Despite many recent state laws about price transparency, we found that most of them were insufficient to reveal true transaction prices, and no state passed legislation that provided effective transparency across the entire supply chain. To ensure drug price legislation is useful, policy makers should require that real price information, including discounts and rebates, is reported by all supply chain participants,” the authors from the University of Southern California wrote.

Richard Durbin

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