Jul 8, 2019

Judge halts Trump administration rule requiring drug prices in TV ads

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration Monday from implementing a new rule that would require pharmaceutical firms to include the wholesale prices of their drugs in TV advertising, Reuters reports.

The big picture: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced the new rule in May and it was due to take effect on Tuesday. But U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., sided with drugmakers Merck & Co, Eli Lilly and Co and Amgen to halt the HHS rule.

What he's saying: Mehta said in his ruling the court does not question the motives of HHS in adopting the rule, but it doesn't have the authority to drug firms to disclose prices, according to The Hill. "Nor does it take any view on the wisdom of requiring drug companies to disclose prices," he said, per The Hill.

"That policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs. But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized. The responsibility rests with Congress to act in the first instance."

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Sara Fischer: TV advertising is an especially important medium for drug companies, which often struggle to advertise on digital channels, due to lengthy side effect disclosure requirements.

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This article has been updated with analysis from Fischer and Judge Mehta's comments.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the gender of the judge.

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White House regroups on drug prices

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

The Trump administration is looking for Congress to implement major changes to how the federal government pays for drugs, following a week of setbacks to its drug pricing agenda.

Yes, but: The major exception to this is the administration's proposal to tie what Medicare pays for some drugs to rates in other countries.

Go deeperArrowJul 12, 2019

White House kills major drug pricing proposal

HHS Sec. Alex Azar. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call

A big part of the Trump administration's plan to lower drug prices is now dead, White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: The administration is backing away from an effort to change the way money flows through federal health care programs — one of the most sweeping elements of its drug-pricing blueprint. That's bad news for pharma, and the move will put pressure on other parts of the administration's plan, which is also bad news for pharma.

Go deeperArrowJul 11, 2019

Importation isn't a silver bullet to lower drug prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration is moving forward on the traditionally Democratic policy of importing prescription drugs from abroad, but the impact — if the proposals are actually finalized — could be pretty muted.

The big picture: While importation could help some patients afford their drugs, the policy overall is an attempt to take advantage of other countries' lower drug prices while avoiding taking direct action to limit prices in the U.S.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019