Despite numerous comments raising questions about a proposal to include list prices in pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday moved ahead and finalized the proposal.
The final rule, which will take effect in July, requires that television advertisements for prescription drugs or biological products with a list price of $35 or more contain a statement indicating the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (also referred to as WAC or the list price) for a typical 30-day regimen or for a typical course of treatment, whichever is most appropriate.
The disclosure, which will be determined on the first day of the quarter during which the advertisement is being aired or otherwise broadcast, will be included as follows: “The list price for a [30-day supply of ] [typical course of treatment with] [name of prescription drug or biological product] is [insert list price]. If you have health insurance that covers drugs, your cost may be different.”
In defending its rule, CMS explained how in 2017, over $5.5 billion was spent on prescription drug advertising, including nearly $4.2 billion on television advertising. And spending on DTC pharmaceutical commercials increased 62 percent between 2012 and 2017.
Meanwhile, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 88% of Americans support requiring drug manufacturers to include their list prices in DTC advertisements, CMS said.
Critics of the proposal, however, have explained how including the prices in DTC ads is not likely to lower drug prices overall, how list prices are not representative of what consumers pay, how CMS has not created an enforcement mechanism to ensure companies comply with the new rule, and some even questioned whether the new requirement should fall under CMS’ purview…