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Q&A: Cost of Prescription Drugs U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

September 6, 2018
Reinbeck Courier
Q: How would your price transparency amendment change prescription drug advertising? A: The U.S. Senate adopted a bipartisan amendment I co-sponsored with Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois that would improve information available to consumers about their prescription medicines. Right now Americans who watch television are exposed to countless messages promoting brand name prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer advertising. In fact, the average American TV viewer watches up to nine drug ads every day. The pharmaceutical companies spend $6 billion annually to tell consumers there’s a drug on the market to relieve what ails them. Our amendment simply asks the drug companies to include the price of the drug along with the uses of the drug, the side effects of the drug, and information already provided about where to get help if you can’t afford the drug. Consumers already have the right to know the side effects of a drug advertised on television, and they ought to know how much it will cost. Our Senate-passed amendment directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue price disclosure regulations for direct-to-consumer advertisements by the pharmaceutical industry.

Q: Why do you want to see prescription drug ads on television include pricing information? A: At nearly every one of my county meetings across Iowa, the cost of health care and prescription drugs comes up. Iowans are concerned about affordable health care, including what they pay for the medicines that treat their chronic conditions and saves lives of their loved ones. Putting consumers in the driver’s seat will help drive down the cost of medicine. That’s why I have long supported health savings accounts. It encourages consumers to spend health dollars wisely. Requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose the price of the drug they are advertising will help consumers make more informed decisions when they discuss medical treatments with their health care providers. Price transparency will empower patients to make informed cost comparisons when they choose and pay for their prescription medicine. There’s plenty of sticker shock at the pharmacy counter. Requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose cost information in their advertising also will foster more robust competition in the drug industry that will lead to lower costs for consumers who increasingly face higher out-of-pocket expenses. As an outspoken champion for transparency and good government, I will continue working to spread sunshine laws for the public good. From cameras in the courts to whistleblower protections, there’s no question that transparency cures wrongdoing and informs the citizenry. Americans know that it’s not easy to reach consensus on health care reform. Price transparency for prescription medicine strikes a bipartisan chord that has won the support of the AARP, doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, and the Trump administration. The pharmaceutical industry spends money to get the most bang for the buck when it advertises brand name drugs for arthritis, fibromyalgia, blood clots, psoriasis, high blood pressure, heart conditions and more. That’s good for business. Our amendment aims to help consumers get more bang for their buck and a better value when they fill their prescription medicines. That’s good for the people’s business.

 
 

 

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