Biopharmaceutical Transparency about Prescription Costs New York Health Works

Biopharmaceutical Companies to Give Patients More Cost and Financial Assistance Information

Americans want more transparency in health care, more information about out-of-pocket costs, more context about medicine costs and more information about how they can better afford the treatments they need. Biopharmaceutical companies heard this call and are taking action to help people make more informed health care decisions.

Last week, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) member companies announced their commitment to providing more transparency about medicine costs. PhRMA member companies’ direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertisements will soon direct patients to information about medicine costs, including the list price of the medicine, out-of-pocket costs or other context about the potential cost of the medicine and available financial assistance. The biopharmaceutical industry will also launch a new platform in 2019 that will provide patients, caregivers and providers with cost and financial assistance information for brand-name medicines, as well as other patient support resources.

All current PhRMA members voluntarily and independently committed to enhancements to PhRMA’s voluntary DTC principles, Guiding Principles on Direct-to-Consumer Advertisements About Prescription Medicines. The DTC Principles have been expanded to include a new guiding principle stating, “All DTC television advertising that identifies a medicine by name should include direction as to where patients can find information about the cost of the medicine, such as a company-developed website, including the list price and average, estimated, or typical patient out-of-pocket costs, or other context about the potential cost of the medicine.” The revised Principles become effective on April 15, 2019, but changes to PhRMA members’ DTC television advertisements will begin in the coming months

Some in government have called for a requirement that companies include medicine list prices in DTC advertisements. However, this price is far removed from what patients pay at the pharmacy counter and including it in advertisements could discourage patients from seeking needed medical care.

recent survey shows Americans want to see more than just the list price – and that providing that figure alone without context may do more harm than good. This survey shows that, by a 3:1 margin, using DTC television advertisements to direct people to fuller information about medicine costs and patient assistance does a better job than including the list price of a medicine in DTC advertisements. In fact, many respondents had serious reservations about putting the list price of a medicine in DTC advertisements and they felt it could harm patients in various ways, including making them worry about how they will afford their medicine, be confused about what a medicine actually costs them and avoid seeking or stop taking a treatment they need.

Over the last decade, PhRMA member companies have shown their commitment to patients through the existing Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) program, helping more than 10 million patients access their medications for free or nearly free. However, in today’s changing health care landscape, PhRMA member companies want to do more. As part of these efforts, PhRMA also announced last week that is it is partnering with patient, pharmacist, provider and consumer groups – including CancerCare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Consumers League, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the National Hispanic Council on Aging and the National Medical Association – to develop a new patient affordability platform that will launch in early 2019. The new platform will include resources, such as:

  • An enhanced search tool that will include medicine-specific public cost and affordability information, including the new information companies will direct patients to via their DTC TV advertisements;
  • Information on how to access company-specific patient assistance and other forms of cost-sharing support, which isn’t currently available on the PPA site; and
  • Resources to help patients navigate their insurance coverage.

These efforts will provide information patients want to make more informed health care decisions and reinforce the industry’s longstanding commitment to creating a health care system that works better for patients.

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