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One notion proposed by the Trump administration to blunt the rising cost of medicines is to require drug makers to disclose list — or wholesale — prices in their TV advertising. The hope is that companies will be persuaded to compete on price if “relevant information” is provided. But the idea has been met with criticism, mostly because few consumers pay this amount unless, for instance, they lack insurance. Nonetheless, the proposal was sent last week to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is taking this idea one step further with updated ads for its Xarelto blood thinner that show not just the list price, but potential out-of-pocket costs. We spoke with Scott White, the J&J group chairman for the North American pharmaceuticals business, about the move. This is an edited version of our conversation.

Pharmalot: Why do you think this approach will work?


White: People really want to know what they can expect to pay at the pharmacy counter, so we asked (2,000 people) what information was most clear and meaningful that is needed to make any decisions around their health care and their medicines. One thing we learned was that list price alone wasn’t sufficient. It didn’t go far enough in giving the patient or consumer the context about how much they would expect to pay when they showed up at the pharmacy. We also learned they wanted to see both list price and out-of-pocket costs that would help them set expectations around what they would pay. … One thing that was interesting, from our research, is that most patients and consumers understand the difference between list price and out-of-pocket costs and deductibles.

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