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February 12, 2019

Johnson & Johnson will voluntarily show Rx prices in TV ads. Is the rest of the industry next?

Daily Briefing

    Johnson & Johnson (J&J) last week announced plans to disclose the list prices of its prescription drugs in television advertisements.

    J&J would be the first drugmaker to include drugs' list prices in TV ads, according to the Associated Press. The move comes after HHS in October 2018 proposed a rule that would require prescription drugmakers to include product list prices in their direct-to-consumer TV advertisements. That same month, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said its members would voluntarily begin directing consumers to company websites with pricing information for their products—a move experts characterized as an attempt to pre-empt the administration's regulatory changes.

    J&J to start rolling out Rx list prices in TV ads next month

    J&J said the company next month will start to include in its TV ads the list prices and typical out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs. The company said it will begin implementing the change in TV ads for its "most frequently prescribed" blood thinner, Xarelto, which costs between $450 and $540 per month without health insurance. J&J said it will feature Xarelto's pricing information at the end of the commercial and direct consumers to a website where they can access more details on their out-of-pocket costs for the drug.

    Scott White, J&J's company group chair for North America pharmaceuticals, in the announcement wrote, "We spoke with many consumers and patients to understand what pricing information would be most relevant to them. Their input not only shaped how we responded to the administration's … advertising proposal, it also suggested a common-sense path forward that we believe will give patients clearer, and more valuable, information about the cost of the medicines we advertise on TV."

    White added that J&J's decision also builds on the company's support for PhRMA's call for drugmakers to direct consumers to company websites with pricing information for their products.

    Azar praises J&J

    HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement issued Thursday applauded J&J's move and commended the company "for recognizing the value of informing consumers about list prices and for doing so voluntarily." He added, "We call on other manufacturers to follow their lead" (Johnson, AP/STAT News, 2/7; Dearment, MedCity News, 2/10; Cohrs, Inside Health Policy, 2/7 [subscription required]).

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