Sep 24, 2019

Generic prescription drugs are sometimes inaccessible to seniors

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Plans providing Medicare's prescription drug benefit are often slow to cover the first generic competition to a branded medication, according to a new white paper by the Association for Accessible Medicines, which represents generics.

Why it matters: Generics are our system's way of keeping drug prices in check. But this doesn't happen unless patients have access to them.

"First generics" are included on the formularies of Medicare Part D plans only 10–25% of the time in the first year after they launch, according to the paper.

  • This increases to 25–35% of the time in the second year after launch, and 55–65% of the time in the third.
  • Even when they are covered, first generics are frequently placed on the same or similar "tier" as the brand drug they're competing with — meaning that patients have no financial incentive to choose the generic.

My thought bubble: Statistics like these only feed the school of thought that says competition isn't doing enough to drive down drug prices, and so the government should take a heavier hand.

Go deeper

New drugs are launching with ever-higher prices

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The average launch prices for new brand-name drugs have skyrocketed over the past decade, according to an analysis from drug research firm 46brooklyn.

Why it matters: The U.S. prescription drug market increasingly has thrived on high initial price tags and subsequent increases. That has resulted in higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for new drugs, as well as more expensive generics.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

Pete Buttigieg joins 2020 Democrats' leftward march on drug prices

Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg released Tuesday his plan to reduce prescription drug prices, which includes many of the liberal proposals that have become the new Democratic normal.

Between the lines: This plan puts Buttigieg somewhere in the leftward middle of the top-tier candidates on drug prices. The field — and the party as a whole — is much more aggressive on the subject than Democrats have been in the past.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

Trump's smoke-and-mirrors 2020 health care strategy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump may be telling voters everything that they want to hear when it comes to health care, but much of it isn't true.

Why it matters: Trump is claiming victories he hasn't achieved and making promises he's not prepared to live up to, all on an immensely personal subject that voters consistently rank as one of the most important issues of 2020.