Critics of the Trump administration’s beleaguered rule demanding drug companies include prices in television ads say it was designed to fail, but Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst defended the rule that could end up in Congress’s hands in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I haven’t seen the finalized rule yet, but this has been brought up by so many of my constituents. … I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s something that needs to be looked at,” she said Wednesday.
A federal judge put a last-minute block on the Trump administration’s rule forcing drug companies to include prices in television ads Monday, and it could be up to Congress to empower the administration to go through with the rule. Major pharmaceutical companies Merck, Eli Lilly and Amgen sued the administration over the rule in June.
While Ernst did not commit to taking action to get the rule accomplished, a bipartisan group of senators proposed a solution to the administration’s problem Wednesday. Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley said their Drug-price Transparency in Communications Act would codify the administration’s regulations in a press release.
“Rather than level with the American public about the sky-high cost of their drugs — when they run their non-stop ads — Pharma sued to block patients from knowing the price. A federal court agreed with Pharma this week, but this isn’t over. I believe Congress should step up and pass a law to require price disclosure,” Durbin said.
In yesterday’s district court ruling on disclosure of drugs’ list prices in manufacturers’ TV ads, Judge Amit Mehta ruled HHS does not have authority to mandate price disclosure from manufacturers—because drugmakers are not “direct participants” in public insurance programs. 1/x pic.twitter.com/BSAXkFODNJ
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Ernst brought up the drug companies’ concerns that the rule violated their First Amendment rights.
“I guess you could say free speech, they can do what they want. But at the same time, okay then, why don’t when you’re advertising you let folks know what is the cost of this? … If you eventually get to a point where it’s so costly that someone can’t afford to get that medication, then what’s the point?” she said.
Ernst connected the administration’s push for greater transparency in health care with her own prescription drug pricing agenda. Although President Donald Trump has signed a series of executive order on that front, he has hit repeated roadblocks.
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