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Generic drug capsules. Photo: Anton Vergun/TASS via Getty Images

Many generic drugs are "wildly overpriced" in Medicare, according to a new analysis of federal data from research firm 46brooklyn Research.

Why it matters: Health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers manipulate generic drug prices in Medicaid, and it appears more generics gaming occurs in Medicare — all on the back of taxpayers and patients.

How it works: Medicare drug plans are buying many generics at prices that are significantly above their ingredient costs.

  • Because plans can't conduct "spread pricing" in Medicare, they claw back money from pharmacies, based on those inflated prices, through different means.
  • Example: A common dose of antipsychotic drug aripiprazole costs $0.30 per pill, but the median Medicare drug plan priced it at $2.58 per pill in the first quarter of this year, according to 46brooklyn's analysis. A handful of companies priced it at more than $20 per pill.
  • 46brooklyn's data can't pinpoint where those margins are going. But pharmacies almost certainly aren't keeping big chunks, given how Medicare plans are increasingly clawing back money from them over the past few years.

Go deeper: Explore the data from the study

Go deeper

4 mins ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

28 mins ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

1 hour ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

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