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TV Drug Ads Will Soon Include Prices: Will It Help Consumers? | HealthLine

Prices coming to television
The whole purpose of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is to get patients to go to their doctors and inquire about a brand-name drug, which is why most ads’ “action item” is telling you to “talk to your doctor.”

DTC is also a practice that’s banned in every country except for the United States and New Zealand.

Research from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says primary care physicians and specialists felt that “DTC confuses patients about the relative risks and benefits of drugs.” Three-fourths of the more than 900 physicians surveyed believe the ads make patients “think drugs work better than they really do.”

Earlier this month, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson announced that by the end of the current quarter, the company will be including both the list price and potential patient out-of-pocket costs for its medicines in TV ads, starting with the blood thinner Xarelto by Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

In the company announcement, Scott White, the North American chair of Johnson & Johnson-owned Janssen, said his firm is starting with its most popular medication to see how the information lands with consumers.

The company plans to expand drug prices to advertising for other medications.

“Transparency is fundamental to achieving a more sustainable, results-based health system that delivers greater access to care at a more manageable cost,” the announcement said.

Sean Karbowicz, the founder and general manager of MedSavvy, which tracks drug pricing, says it’s hard to say at this point how many drugs this will affect, but he did say Johnson & Johnson’s decision “is opening a door that is sure to have positive ripple effects.”

“Clearly, the industry is getting pressure to be more transparent, which is a great thing for consumers,” Karbowicz told Healthline.

Part of that pressure is from the Trump administration, which last May unveiled “American Patients First,” its blueprint aimed at lowering drug costs and out-of-pocket expenses for consumers.

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States,” President Trump is quoted in the introduction to the report.

Johnson & Johnson says its decision to air prices in its TV ads comes in response to the Trump administration’s proposal as well as consumer input. They plan to create “a common-sense path forward” to inform patients about the cost of the medicines advertised to them at home.

Also this month, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a cabinet meeting that the Medicare program overpays for its prescription drugs compared to other countries such as Canada, Japan, and those in Europe (none of which allow direct-to-consumer advertising and thus have lower marketing costs factored into their drug pricing).

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TV Drug Ads Will Soon Include Prices: Will It Help Consumers?.