Updated Aug 30, 2023 - Health

What Medicare spends on drugs it will soon negotiate

Cost of drugs selected for Medicare price negotiation
Data: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The Biden administration says the 10 medicines selected for the first round of negotiations cost Medicare $50 billion in the last year.

Yes, but: The numbers don't account for discounts from manufacturers, or rebates secured by health insurers and drug benefit managers.

By the numbers: The blood thinner Eliquis, made by Bristol Myers Squibb and taken by 3.7 million Medicare enrollees, cost the federal government more than $16 billion between June 2022 and May 2023.

  • That's more than double the next highest-cost drug, the diabetes medication Jardiance from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly, and over six times higher than the three drugs rounding out the list.

Zoom in: Patient costs for each of the selected drugs also varies.

  • In 2022, Medicare patients paid an average of $5,247 out of pocket for blood cancer drug Imbruvica made by AbbVie and Janssen, more than any other drug on the negotiation list, according to a separate report released Tuesday by the Health and Human Services Department.
  • Fiasp and its related NovoNordisk insulin products cost patients an average of $121 last year, HHS said.

Editor's note: This piece was updated to clarify that the Medicare figures don't take into account discounts already provided on the drugs.

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