Pharmaceutical advertising in the United States will undergo massive reform if a new regulation endorsed by the Trump administration works its way into formal policy.

The Regulation to Require Drug Pricing Transparency” proposes that television ads that involve direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharma advertising – long a staple of American evening-news programming – will need to explicitly state the list price of a 30-day supply of any product that is covered through Medicare and Medicaid, and that costs more than $35 a month.

“Sometimes it takes government to make the first move, to disrupt a broken system, and to lay down new rules of the road,” Alex Azar, the Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, and who served as US president of Eli Lily & Co. from 2012–17, explained, as reported by The Washington Post.

In reacting to the proposal, the American Medical Association, long an opponent to DTC advertising, stated, “as long as the practice is allowed, the ads should come with at least a small dose of transparency.”

The Trump administration reportedly believes that disclosures in television advertising would enable consumers to become more price-sensitive in their shopping and, as a result, slow the rise in pharmaceutical costs that, say federal officials, have contributed to the high cost of healthcare.

The shift, which likely will become subject to months of debate between the pharmaceutical industry and the legislation’s proponents, is expected to find its way into public policy in some form.

Indeed, anticipating such approval, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a major pharmaceutical lobbying group, yesterday announced a new voluntary program that would drive viewers of DTC television ads to company websites that would provide pricing information.

The digital listings encompassed under the PhRMA initiative, which the trade association said could go into effect as soon as April 15, 2019, CNBC reported. And it would include a range of pricing information, such as a drug’s list price, expected out-of-pocket costs, and the fees for available patient-assistance programs.

Sourced from the Washington Post and CNBC; additional content by WARC staff