Eli Lilly's new Trulicity TV ad counters Trump with first-ever pricing information

David Ricks
Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks this week announced a Trulicity TV ad revamp, the first to include new PhRMA DTC pricing guidelines for better price transparency. (LilyPad)

Eli Lilly is officially the first pharma to add pricing information to a TV commercial. The move—initially for Trulicity in a spot that debuted this week—will expand to its other TV-promoted drugs by the end of next month.

Lilly's new TV approach comes as Trump administration pushes forward on a proposal to require list prices in brand-name drug ads. It's not the same sort of disclosure Trump's asking for, but follows a self-regulation counterproposal PhRMA made to combat the administration's official push.

The revamped Trulicity ad will direct viewers to visit a new website, lillypricinginfo.com, or call an 800 number for the pocketbook info. There, they'll get the diabetes drug’s list price, estimated out-of-pocket costs for patients and patient assistance program information. Lilly said it will post the same pricing information for all medicines it promotes on TV by the end of February, and in the coming months, will add that information for all Lilly drugs whether they're advertised or not.

RELATED: Seniors want drug prices in ads. Young people? Eh, whatever: survey

Lilly is following an agreement with other Big Pharma companies, via their mutual trade group PhRMA, to use revised marketing principles adopted in October to create more price transparency. The idea is that DTC ads will include online destinations where consumers can find list prices; costs, depending on insurance coverage; and patient assistance information.

The “DTC Principles” for PhRMA members now says all branded TV ads  should direct patients to places where they can find information about the cost of the medicine that includes “the list price and average, estimated, or typical patient out-of-pocket costs, or other context about the potential cost of the medicine.” Meanwhile, PhRMA is working on a larger, central “affordability hub” that will aggregate the information for brand-name medicines across manufacturers.

Dave Ricks, Lilly chairman-CEO, wrote in an online post this week, “Americans are upset and confused about their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. And rightly so. … We recognize that the U.S. healthcare system has asked Americans to pay more out-of-pocket—including for prescription medicines. So people need new tools to help them.”

RELATED: Thank politicians—and maybe your doctor—as the drug price advertising debate drags on

Ricks said Lilly is committed to do its part. People in high-deductible plans need the most help, he said, and noted that Lilly thinks health plans should share pharma rebates with patients. The pharma is also urging the government—as part of the Smarter Health Care Coalition—to allow high deductible plans to forego deductibles on preventative medicines for chronic diseases.

A Lilly spokesperson said via email that the company will solicit feedback from patients and other stakeholders about the Trulicity commercial and the website pricing information to make sure it’s understandable and meaningful. The company will also use the feedback to improve future ad iterations, she said.

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