Jun 14, 2019

Drugmakers sue to block rule requiring drug prices in TV ads

Amgen is one of 3 drugmakers suing the Trump administration. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Amgen, Eli Lilly, Merck and the Association of National Advertisers are suing the Trump administration over its rule forcing pharmaceutical companies to display drugs' list prices in TV commercials. They say the rule violates the First Amendment and exceeds the government's authority.

The big picture: Experts expected drugmakers to file such a lawsuit β€” even though the new regulation isn't expected to actually affect drug pricing.

What they're saying: The drug companies argue in their complaint that the rule would have a "misleading effect," because the sticker prices would not represent what patients themselves have to pay.

  • The companies also say the regulation violates their First Amendment rights because the government is compelling "commercial speakers to convey the government's preferred messages" without evidence the speech will "advance a substantial government interest."
  • In a separate statement, Amgen said the rule would not address what most patients want to know: what their out-of-pocket costs will be.

Between the lines: The rule itself is pretty small potatoes, but the lawsuit shows the self-interested goals of each party.

  • The Trump administration likes the rule because it's a talking point to say they are doing something about drug prices, despite federal officials admitting it would have negligible effects on patients and drug spending.
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers don't like the rule because it might discourage patients from buying their products. Instead, the companies like to promote how insured patients can get their drugs for free or at a low cost through drug copay cards β€” which economists agree raise costs and allow drugmakers to charge higher prices.

The bottom line: Even a minor change like this leads to drug industry opposition.

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What to watch in tonight's Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his opponents are ready to try to knock him down at tonight's debate in Charleston, South Carolina β€” especially Michael Bloomberg, who was the punching bag at the Las Vegas debate.

Why it matters: This is the last debate before Super Tuesday, when Sanders is expected to win California and Texas and could secure an insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination. That's a direct threat to the entire field, but especially to Bloomberg, who skipped the early states to focus on the March 3 contests.

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business