Disclosure of drug prices could begin much-needed change

Thursday, May 9, 2019

One comedian joked about the side-effect disclaimers at the end of televised drug commercials: “It’s like they’re daring you to take it!”

A new federal rule will make “ask your doctor about ____” even more daring.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday that new rules will require drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply.

“What I say to the companies is, if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your costs,” Azar said.

Drug companies immediately responded with a predictable argument, that disclosing prices could harm patients, which might be true, although profits and stockholders are more likely at the top of most drug CEO’s minds. In truth, there are probably more patients harmed by failing to take needed medications because of high prices.

If they are covered by insurance, too many of us are content to take prescription medications without consideration of cost, when less costly alternatives are available.

Disclosure of drug prices could be the tipping point that begins to bring the price of prescription drugs into line with reasonable profits with room for funding research on drugs that are truly needed for patients.

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