Trump plan on prescription drug finds ally in Democrat Durbin

  • Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, speaks during a hearing about the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday in Washington. Durbin said Friday that he is again pursuing a bill requiring drug companies to list the price of prescription medications in TV ads, efforts now backed by the Trump administration.

    Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, speaks during a hearing about the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday in Washington. Durbin said Friday that he is again pursuing a bill requiring drug companies to list the price of prescription medications in TV ads, efforts now backed by the Trump administration. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/10/2019 4:05 PM

Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced a new requirement for drug companies to list the price of prescription medications in television advertisements and found an ally in that cause in Sen. Dick Durbin.

Durbin, a Springfield Democrat and Illinois' senior senator, has long championed that idea and got a similar measure passed by the Senate last year with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. However, the bill died in a House committee under pressure from drugmakers, Durbin said Friday.

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Now, Durbin is back pursuing the bill to bolster the regulations announced earlier this week by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

"When it comes to advertising drugs, you should advertise the price," Durbin said at a news conference in Chicago on Friday. "Transparency, so consumers across America can not only hear about the benefits and the warning signals of the drug, they can know what it costs."

A recent poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1 in 3 Americans said they haven't taken medications as prescribed because of costs.

Dr. Steven Driver, interventional cardiologist and associate medical director for health behavioral change with the Advocate Medical Group, said he's had patients stop taking medications because they were embarrassed to tell him the drugs cost too much.

"It may surprise patients to learn that doctors are left in the dark when it comes to costs, too," Driver said.

Durbin said that in researching his bill, he spoke with several insurers who noted the main driver of health insurance premiums is the cost of prescription medications, particularly for the elderly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We know these drugs costs are felt by individuals, but they're especially felt by senior citizens," Durbin said.

Trump administration officials said television advertisements for drugs should start listing prices as early as this summer, once the new regulations have been published.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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