Thumbs up: A price tag for ‘as seen on TV’ drugs

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Thumbs up for the Trump administration. Yes, you read that right. Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, said last week that pharmaceutical manufacturers will be required to add an additional detail to their TV advertising: the price of any prescription drug they’re pitching if it’s covered by Medicare or Medicaid and costs more than $35 a month. “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 prices,” Azar said. “Transparency for American patients is here.”

Drug companies spend about $4 billion a year on TV advertising. Given the long lists of potential side effects in most ads, it’s remarkable that anyone asks their doctor for one drug or another. They must, or the commercials wouldn’t fill so much air time. And, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the 10 most commonly advertised drugs have list prices ranging from $448 to $16,338 a month. The new rules are supposed to take effect this summer. Just what the doctor ordered.

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