Trump administration wants to shame Big Pharma into lowering drug prices

The Trump administration wants to shame pharmaceutical companies into lowering prescription drug prices, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC in an interview Thursday.

Pharmaceutical companies will be required to disclose the list price of their prescription medicines in television commercials under a new Trump administration policy. Some argue the list prices don’t reflect what consumers actually pay at the pharmacy counter and may discourage people from seeking medical care.

“If the drug companies are embarrassed or if they’re afraid that patients will be scared off by their drug prices, reduce your prices. It’s that simple,” Azar said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

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The requirement is set to take effect as soon as this summer and will apply to drugs that cost more than $35 for a month’s supply, the administration said. Until now, drug companies were required to disclose the major side effects a drug can have in TV ads but not the price.

Azar compares the move to regulators for decades requiring cars display sticker prices and does not necessarily want to dissuade pharma companies from advertising their drugs.

“What I’m trying to do right now is get more transparency into these advertisements,” he said. “These ads can provoke important discussions, people can recognize conditions they may have, but the important thing is there’s got to be a fair, balanced and informed discussion with the doctor. Without the pricing information, that’s not an informed discussion.”

Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
contributed to this story

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