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Trump administration wants drug ads to include costs; Big Pharma says that will confuse you

You can’t get through a network evening newscast without watching at least one commercial for a prescription medication. The government requires those ads to include an exhaustive list of side effects. And soon, ads for prescription drugs that cost more than $35 a month will also include the price.

“We are moving from a system where people are left in the dark to a system where patients are put in the driver’s seat,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II told The New York Times and other reporters.

Big Pharma may challenge those requirements, saying that ads revealing list prices could confuse consumers and violate companies’ First Amendment rights.

The industry’s other argument: While the list price of some drugs can run thousands per month, patients with insurance often pay far less.

Patient advocacy groups say televised drug ads often steer patients to high-priced medications or even to drugs they don’t need. At the same time, they question whether including prices in ads will make a meaningful difference in bringing costs down.

“We don’t believe that disclosing list prices will shame drug corporations into lowering list prices,” Ben Wakama, executive director of Patients for Affordable Drug Prices, told NPR.

What do you think? Will including drug prices in advertising make a difference? Share your thoughts and stories with Voices for Affordable Health.