Grassley applauds move to require prescription drug prices in ads

FILE PHOTO: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) (from left) talks with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) before the start of the se
FILE PHOTO: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) (from left) talks with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) before the start of the second day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Neil Gorsuch to become an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley is applauding a requirement that pharmaceutical companies include prescription drug prices in their direct-to-consumer advertising, such as those seen on television.

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin won Senate approval last year of mandatory price disclosure in direct-to-consumer ads as part of the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill. However, it was not in the final legislation that went to the president. Now, the Health and Human Services Department has announced final regulations requiring price disclosure on direct-to-consumer ads.

A typical consumer sees at least nine direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads every day, Grassley said Wednesday in a conference call with Iowa reporters.

“These ads tell you just about everything imaginable about the drug, other than how much it costs,” he said. Studies show that patients are more likely to ask for specific brand name medications, and doctors are more likely to prescribe them if they have been marketed through television ads.

The pharmaceutical industry spends more than $6 billion a year on direct-to-consumer advertising, Grassley said, adding that “drives up health care cost by steering patients toward more expensive, often unnecessary, medications.

“American patients deserve the transparency of the price besides all the other information like the good it can do for you and the dangers if you take that drug,” he said. “This is an important step to reduce the price of prescription drugs, and I applaud this move by HHS.”

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