Oct 16, 2023 | Press Releases

Nunn, Spanberger Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Create Transparency for Drug Pricing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the price of their drugs on advertisements.

“Iowa families are struggling to afford necessary health care due to out-of-control prescription drug prices,” said Rep. Nunn. “Iowans deserve to know what they’re paying before they agree to a plan of care and right now, the lack of transparency doesn’t make it easy. This legislation will create critical transparency in drug pricing that will hold the drug companies accountable and allow patients, families, and providers to make the best decision for their health.”

Advertising expenses by drug manufacturers have more than quadrupled over the past two decades — rising from $1.3 billion spent on 79,000 ads in 1997 to $6 billion spent on 4.6 million ads in 2016. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), prescription drugs advertised directly to consumers account for 58 percent of Medicare’s spending on drugs. As a result, an American sees an average of nine pharmaceutical advertisements each day — often steering patients to more expensive drugs, even when a low-cost generic is available. Most countries have banned direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising altogether — the United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising.

“Multinational pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars each year encouraging patients to spend more money than necessary on drugs — just to line their pockets,” said Rep. Spanberger. “Requiring advertisers to disclose the price tag on the drugs they are steering patients toward would hold drug companies accountable for skyrocketing drug costs and empower consumers to make informed decisions about their care. Virginians and Americans across the country deserve this information, and I’m proud to work with Representative Nunn to bring a healthy dose of transparency and common sense to the pharmaceutical industry.

The bipartisan Drug-Price Transparency for Consumers Act would require that direct-to-consumer advertisements for pharmaceuticals include a disclosure of pricing information. Specifically, the legislation would amend the Social Security Act to allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require that pharmaceutical advertisements disclose the wholesale cost for a 30-day supply or typical course of treatment of the drug, clearly present the price information, and explain that pricing may vary depending on insurance coverage. Additionally, the bill would subject advertisers to a penalty of up to $100,000 for each violation.

Text of the bill can be found here.