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HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services formally rolled out a proposal yesterday that would require drug companies to include their products’ list prices in their TV ads, similar to the way they disclose side effects.

The big picture: There’s a legitimate debate about how this would work and how big a difference it will make. But it is, notably, the first real showdown with the pharmaceutical industry since the administration released its drug-pricing plan earlier this year.

  • "It has taken them five months ... to start skating to where the puck is going," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday.

Details: Drugmakers will have to disclose the list prices — the wholesale acquisition cost, to be specific — in TV ads for every drug reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid, as long as the price is more than $35 for a month’s prescription.

  • The regulation ended up coming from Medicare and Medicaid, rather than the FDA, because those agencies have a mission to control costs — which may help put the rule on more solid legal footing.
  • Price disclosures will only have to be in text, not voiceover. Officials said that would make the rules less onerous for drug companies.
  • HHS would enforce the rules by publishing a list of companies and products that didn’t comply, and noncompliance could also trigger lawsuits.

What’s next, from the industry side: The pharmaceutical industry suggested yesterday that it's likely to challenge the rules in court once they're finalized, alleging a First Amendment violation.

What's next, from the regulatory side: The administration is considering more rules cracking down on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The White House is reviewing a proposal to rein in their lucrative rebates.

  • “We believe today's rebates, which helped drive list prices skyward, are not necessary to a strong negotiating ecosystem,” Azar said yesterday. “They could be replaced with fixed-price up-front discounts.”

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Sports

The Olympic events to watch today

Katie Ledecky. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

5 events to watch today...
  • Baseball: USA plays Israel in the opening round at 6 a.m. ET on nbcolympics.com (Watch the replay at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports).
  • Women’s soccer: USA takes on the Netherlands in the quarterfinals at 7 a.m. ET on NBC Sports (watch the replay at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports).
  • 🏊 🚴 🏃‍♀️ Team triathlon: The mixed team relay Triathlon makes its Olympic debut at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
  • 🏊‍♀️ Swimming finals: Watch Katie Ledecky swim the women’s 800m freestyle final and Caeleb Dressel go for his third gold at this year’s Games in the men’s 50m freestyle. Plus live action from the mixed 4x100m medley relay. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
  • 🏃‍♀️ Track and field: Athletes compete in prelims and round 1 of several events, including the women’s 400m hurdles and men’s 100m.
Ina Fried, author of Login
27 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

NTT is using augmented reality holograms to transport an Olympic badminton match to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Photo: NTT

Japanese telecom giant NTT is using the Olympics to show off a new generation of technologies that can transport the sporting experience to wherever fans are, instead of making them come to games.

Why it matters: Technology like this would have solved tons of problems this year, when no spectators are allowed at the actual Olympic venues. Unfortunately, it's all available only in demo form right now.

55 mins ago - Health

America's new approach to masks is even more scattershot than before

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In grocery stores and pizza joints, main streets and downtowns across the country, pandemic precautions range wildly — from nonexistent to 2020 deja vu.

The big picture: As COVID-19 cases surge, especially in states with low vaccination rates, the country is once again in the throes of a fraught cultural and political debate over face masks.