The pharmaceutical industry is fighting back against efforts by the Trump administration to make prescription medications more affordable for Americans.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has reportedly issued a statement in opposition to calls for drug prices to be more clearly disclosed to the public, claiming that doing so would be “misleading.”
“Just including list prices is not sufficient,” is the argument being made by PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl.
Since drug list prices “rarely reflect what consumers actually pay through insurance,” explains Breitbart.com, publishing honest drug price information “could discourage patients from seeking needed medical attention.”
PhRMA is proposing an alternative method of price disclosure that involves embedding drug advertising links that redirect potential customers to pages explaining a “drug’s list price, an expected range of possible patient out-of-pocket costs and financial support that is available to help consumers pay for their drugs.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar chastises Big Pharma, says “real transparency” is needed
But is this enough? Not according to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, who called PhRMA’s alternative proposition an attempt to avoid “real transparency.”
“The drug industry remains resistant” to honestly disclosing actual drug prices, he stated, “including the sky-high list of prices that many patients pay.”
“So while the pharmaceutical industry’s action today is a small step in the right direction, we will go further and continue to implement the president’s blueprint to deliver new transparency and put American patients first,” Azar added.
PhRMA says price disclosure requirements violate “First Amendment”
PhRMA is none too happy with Azar’s agenda, and is now claiming personhood for the entire pharmaceutical industry in order to allege that the White House is trying to violate Big Pharma’s “First Amendment rights.”
“The concern is that if the government is compelling companies to speak, then that violates the First Amendment,” PhRMA General Counsel James Stansel said in a public statement.
But not everyone is buying this “free speech” argument by Big Pharma, which has long maintained a government-sanctioned monopoly over medicine that allows the industry to rake in tens of billions of dollars in profits annually.
According to Harvard Medical School lawyer Ameet Sarpatwari, PhRMA’s First Amendment argument is invalid, and would more than likely be rejected by any judge before which it might be presented.
“Industry could challenge the proposal as unconstitutional compelled commercial speech, but it is doubtful that such a challenge would be successful,” Sarpatwari is quoted as saying to Breitbart.com.
“A strong argument exists that list prices are factual, uncontroversial information, in which case HHS would need only to show that the disclosure requirement is rationally related to legitimate government interest.”
President Trump’s pharmaceutical drug reform plans “most comprehensive” in presidential history
As reported back in the summer, President Trump fully intends to fulfill the promise he made while campaigning to reign in out-of-control prescription drug prices.
At the time, Azar had announced that the Trump White House’s endeavors represent the “most comprehensive” effort to offer cheap medicines to the public in presidential history.
“Look, the president is not interested in any kind of cheap political theatrics,” Azar told Laura Ingraham during an interview on her show.
“He wants results that really will deliver at the end of the day. You know, as appealing as some concepts might be on day one, you gotta play it out to, you know, to day 300 and see if it’s actually gonna save money.”