AMA Votes to Require Drug Makers to Disclose Prescription Costs in Ads

Group responds to “exorbitant” prices

As prescription drug prices have spiked—often without reason—the American Medical Association (AMA) has advocated for more transparency in pricing to protect patients. At its annual meeting, the AMA adopted several policies that aim to give patients more information about the drugs prescribed to them and to shed light on the rationale for price increases.

“Taken together, these policies would bring much-needed transparency to drug pricing and provide a clear benefit to consumers struggling with exorbitant costs. There seems to be no logic—or warning—to these price spikes,” said AMA president-elect Barbara L. McAneny, MD.

One policy calls on manufacturers to list the suggested retail prices of drugs when running direct-to-consumer ads. The AMA will urge the appropriate federal agencies to include that requirement. One study showed that prescriptions medications that were advertised directly to consumers saw prices increase by 34.2% compared with a 5.1% increase for other pharmaceuticals. According to the AMA, pharma companies know their advertising pays off by having patients pressure their physicians to prescribe certain medications that cost more than alternatives and are not necessarily as efficacious. Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals was illegal in the United States until 1997 and is currently legal in only one other country, New Zealand.

To allow patients and physicians to get a handle on skyrocketing prescription prices, the AMA delegates also called on drug companies to give public notice before increasing the prices of certain drugs by more than 10% during a 12-month period. That would generate information about the most egregious examples of price gouging, particularly for older drugs, the AMA said.

Source: AMA; June 15, 2017.