Sep 24, 2019

America is pharma's piggybank

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
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Reproduced from the Ways and Means Committee; Table: Axios Visuals

Americans would save a boatload if we paid the same prices as other wealthy countries pay for prescription drugs, a new analysis from the House Ways & Means Committee confirms.

Why it matters: This is why the industry is so staunchly opposed to both President Trump's and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plans to piggyback off of other countries' lower prices.

Where it stands: Most countries included in the analysis have average drug prices that are between 24% and 30% of U.S. prices. Government regulations keep drug prices lower in these countries.

  • Those U.S. prices don't take into account rebates and discounts, which bring down the price most insured patients actually pay.
  • The average rebate in Medicare Part D is about 22%, according to a 2015 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. Those rebates would have to be significantly bigger to match other countries' prices.

The other side "International comparisons link list prices in the United States — that almost nobody pays — to these artificially low prices set by governments in other countries," PhRMA spokesperson Holly Campbell said.

  • "In every country where the government sets medicine prices, patients face significant restrictions in accessing new medicines and long treatment delays," she added.

Yes, but: Many patients with high deductibles or no insurance at all pay the list price for their prescriptions, leading to unfilled prescriptions and other medication adherence issues.

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