- The American Medical Association will consider in its upcoming annual meeting a proposed resolution calling for the group to advocate for requiring drug prices be including in pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.
- The resolution would have the AMA advocate federal agencies — such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to require direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements state the retail price tags of the drugs they market.
- The move comes amid controversies around rising drugs prices that have brought new attention on how drugmakers market and sell their products.
Most of the pharmaceuticals advertised directly to consumers tend to be the newest and most expensive ones, including biologics such as Humira (adalimumab) or new immunotherapies like Keytruda (pembrolizumab)
Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, which has been legal in the U.S. since 1997, is often criticized for pressuring patients and doctors, although drugmakers argue that ads are important to build disease awareness.
The resolution, introduced for consideration by AMA delegates from six New England states, claims DTC advertising is part of the reason why pharmaceutical prices in the U.S. have risen.
This isn't the first time the AMA has taken a public stance on DTC advertising by the pharma industry. In 2015, the organization called for a ban on consumer-facing ads for prescription drugs and medical devices.
But the debate around drug costs has only ratcheted up since then, with a parade of pricing controversies stirring up legislative and public outcry. President Donald Trump has accused the industry of "getting away with murder" and lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have turned up the scrutiny.
The newly appointed commissioner of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, has vowed to take steps to bring cheaper generic copies to the market more rapidly in order to increase competition and bring down prices. Gottlieb has also said he will look at actions the FDA can take to prevent companies from "gaming" regulations to delay competition.
At its yearly meeting, the AMA will also vote on a resolution supporting drug pricing legislation that requires pharmaceutical manufactures to disclose the basis for all prices of prescription drugs. The resolution, if passed, would have the AMA throw its weight behind legislation requiring manufacturers provide public notice before increasing the wholesale price of any brand or specialty drug, and for the Attorney General and FTC to take legal action to address price gouging.
That proposed resolution claims prices for 73 existing brand name drugs have increased by 75% or more since 2007, while noting the high prices for many of the oncology drugs recently approved by the FDA.