Prescription drug ads on television will soon alert consumers to a previously hidden side effect: the dent in your wallet.

That’s because new regulations will require pharmaceutical companies advertising on TV to include the list prices for any medications that cost over $35 for a month’s supply.  

‘‘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.”
Alex Azar
Health and Human Services Secretary

Pricing details are expected to appear during the closing portion of the ads, when the comprehensive list of side effects are described.

Endpoints News reports the full-price disclosure will read: “The list price for a (30-day supply of ) (typical course of treatment with) (name of prescription drug or biological product) is (insert list price). If you have health insurance that covers drugs, your cost may be different.”

This change, expected to take effect in July,  comes in response to growing angst about prescription drug costs, and is an initial regulatory step championed by the White House to pressure pharmaceutical companies into lowering, or at least maintaining prices.

Announcing the new regulations, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar offered a simple solution to drug companies worried about their bottom lines, AP News reports. ‘‘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.”

These new regulations will not actually force pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices. Instead, the government hopes that more transparency regarding prices will lead to increased dialogue between doctors and patients over the cost of medication, and drug companies will feel the pressure to keep prices in check.

TV advertising power is a major part of Big Pharma’s overall outreach to consumers: drug companies spent $4.2 billion dollars on television advertising in 2017, an increase of 62% from 2012.

As reported by Boston.com, Azar believes TV ads are pharmaceutical companies’ “most impactful form of advertising.”

‘‘That is where the patient has the most need of being informed,’’ he said.

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