Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Monday proposed requiring prescription drug companies to reveal medicine costs in television advertisements.
The announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services came hours after the country's largest drug industry trade group said it would begin directing consumers to where they can find information about prescription drug costs in ads.
The HHS directive would go further, including the pricing directly in the ads.
"Patients deserve to know what a given drug will cost when they're being told about the benefits and risks it may have," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a speech announcing the proposed rule change.
"And they deserve to know when a drug company has pushed its prices to abusive levels, and they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV."
Earlier in the day, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said it would include the new website information as part of a "commitment to providing more transparency about medicine costs."
The television advertisements will inform users about company websites where they can find medicine list price, out-of-pocket costs and available financial assistance.
"Our member companies are taking a new approach to how they communicate about medicines in [direct-to-consumer] television advertisements to make it easier for patients to access information about medicine costs," said Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA. "The administration and Congress have called on our industry to provide cost information in DTC advertisements, and our members are voluntarily stepping up to the plate."
Azar said PhRMA's announcement was a "small step in the right direction" but that it didn't go far enough.
"Our vision for a new, more transparent drug-pricing system does not rely on voluntary action. The drug industry remains resistant to providing real transparency around their prices, including the sky-high list prices that many patients pay," he said in a statement released in response to the PhRMA announcement.
But "placing information on a website is not the same as putting it in an ad," he said during his later news conference.
President Donald Trump has pushed legislation forcing pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists to be more communicative with customers about prescription drug costs. Last week, he signed a pair of bills lifting so-called gag orders that previously prevented pharmacists from telling customers about how to save money on drugs.
During the signing, Trump said the state of drug pricing was "out of whack" and "way too high," in part due to the gag orders.
"You look at prices in our country and for the exact same drug in other countries, it's much lower-made in the same plant by the same company, and I said, 'What's going on?'"
In May, Trump laid out a series of plans to make pharmaceutical companies more competitive, including reducing the cost of prescription drugs by allowing drug companies to introduce cheaper versions of medications already on the market, stating at the time they were "getting away with murder. "
"Our great citizens deserve to know the lowest price available at our pharmacies and now that is what they'll be getting," Trump said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said PhRMA's announcement was a "small step in the right direction."
PhRMA said all of its member companies voluntarily agreed to the new initiative.