AMA Calls on Companies to Include Suggested Retail Drug Prices in Consumer Advertising

Source: FirstWord

The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a policy urging pharmaceutical companies to list the suggested retail prices of drugs when running direct-to-consumer advertisements, adding it will seek to convince the relevant federal agencies to make such disclosures mandatory. AMA president-elect Barbara McAneny said the move would help "bring much needed transparency to drug pricing and provide a clear benefit to consumers struggling with exorbitant costs." 

The recommendation comes after Mylan received criticism regarding price hikes it made over the last several years for the allergy drug EpiPen (epinephrine). US lawmakers have also raised concerns over Marathon Pharmaceuticals' planned price of $89 000 for the Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment Emflaza (deflazacort), which the drugmaker later sold to PTC Therapeutics for $140 million (for related analysis, see ViewPoints: Once more into the breach – PTC hopes new price for Emflaza is 'low enough').

The AMA cited prior research showing that prices for prescription drugs directly advertised to consumers were increased by 34.2 percent, versus 5.1 percent for other treatments. According to the group, drugmakers "know their advertising pays off by having patients pressure physicians to prescribe certain medications that cost more than lower-cost alternatives and are not necessarily as efficacious."

The AMA also called on drugmakers to provide public notice of plans to raise prices on certain products by more than 10 percent during a 12-month period, as "this would generate information about the most egregious examples of price gouging, particularly for older drugs." The association further indicated that it will work to raise awareness about price increases for the overdose treatment naloxone and support efforts to boost access to affordable versions of the drug.

Commenting on the news, PhRMA spokesperson Holly Campbell stated "the proposal to include the list price of a medicine on an ad would provide no meaningful benefit to patients." She noted that "price comparison websites already exist to help consumers compare and look for the best retail prices, the price the consumer actually pays, for their medications at local pharmacies." Campbell also suggested that providing public notices of price increases would not be useful to consumers, as those prices do not take various discounts and rebates into account.

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