Drugmakers sue over Trump administration TV price disclosure rule

A coalition of drug companies and advertisers is suing the Trump administration over its new policy of requiring prescription drug manufacturers to disclose list prices in TV ads.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn one of the administration’s boldest moves to bring transparency to the medication pricing system.

The pharmaceutical companies — Amgen, Merck, and Eli Lilly — were joined by the Association of National Advertisers. In a statement, Amgen said it doesn’t disagree with the need for transparency, but the administration’s final rule raises “serious freedom of speech concerns.”

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The final rule, which is set to take effect in July, “mandates an approach that fails to account for differences among insurance, treatments, and patients themselves,” Amgen said.

According to the lawsuit, the rule exceeds the Department of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) statutory authority and violates the First Amendment.

“Americans deserve accurate information about the price they will pay for prescription Drugs,” the complaint states. The final rule “purports to further that objective, but will instead frustrate it — by misleading patients about their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs in a manner that even HHS admits may ‘confuse’ and ‘intimidate’ patients.”

Under the new policy, which was announced by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, drug manufacturers will have to state the list price of a 30-day supply of any drug that is covered through Medicare and Medicaid and costs at least $35 a month.

According to HHS, the idea behind the rule is to make patients better informed so they can talk about the affordability of their medicines with their doctors. At the time, Azar said there’s no reason patients should be kept in the dark about the full prices of the products they’re being sold.

“Patients have a right to know, and if you’re ashamed of your drug prices, change your drug prices. It’s that simple,” Azar said last month when the administration announced the final rule.

But drug companies have fought the rule from the very start, arguing it will confuse consumers, because a drug’s list price is often higher than what the patient will actually pay.

“Far from promoting transparency and improved decision-making, therefore, the rule would instead force pharmaceutical companies to mislead tens of millions of Americans about the price they would actually pay for important medicines that might improve their health or even save their lives,” the lawsuit states.