Price checked: J&J launches industry-first TV ad with drug list price

Johnson & Johnson’s anticoagulant Xarelto has picked up an industry first. On Friday, it became the subject of the first-ever TV drug ad with a list price included.

The company has tweaked two already-running ads to add Xarelto's $448 list price at the end of the spot, along with a range of typical out-of-pocket costs. J&J took the initiative to add list prices to the ads after a Trump administration proposal put doing so on the table last year.

That measure has yet to pass, but J&J said in February that it planned to move ahead anyway and would begin with Xarelto, its most prescribed drug.

J&J is not entirely alone in its TV ad strategy. The Big Pharma members, including J&J, of trade group PhRMA all agreed last October to add pricing info links to all TV drug ads beginning in April, with some already doing so. Eli Lilly, for instance, began adding on-screen link referrals in January to its dedicated pricing website in TV ads for drugs including Trulicity and Emgality.

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“We are closely aligned with PhRMA and 100% agree with their approach that list price alone is not the solution. List price alone in advertising doesn’t provide the necessary context and information needed. And we’ve heard that in our research with more than 2,000 patients across America that we’ve been doing for months now," a J&J spokesman said.

Along with the Xarelto list price in the TV ad, J&J updated its website with pricing information and debuted its third transparency report, which includes an explainer video about how and why J&J’s list pricing initiative works. J&J will add the pricing links to TV ads for its other two TV-advertised drugs, Stelara and Tremfya, in April, the spokesman said, and it plans to evaluate feedback from the Xarelto list price ad to determine whether to add list prices in the other ads or not.

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The Trump proposal is currently awaiting HHS’ next move after the public comment period ended in December, with 146 responses filed by pharma, healthcare industry players, physicians and consumers. It faces a trek to approval, including the possibility of legal action over First Amendment issues. However, the administration is moving ahead. The New York Times reported last week that “the White House is reviewing the text of a final rule to impose the requirement, contending that the disclosures ‘will provide manufacturers with an incentive to reduce their list prices by exposing overly costly drugs to public scrutiny.’”