The 10 medicines that the Government seeks to lower the price when negotiating with pharmaceutical companies

The United States is the country that, by far, spends the most on health compared to other large and rich nations. It spends $4.5 trillion annually, and almost twice as much per person as the average for other industrialized nations.

That is why it was historic that the Government began negotiations in early February to lower the price of at least 10 medications, which are commonly prescribed to millions of Americans.

Prices for these drugs are, on average, three times higher than in other countries with similar incomes to the United States, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Science and Data Policy, even after rebates and discounts. .

(White House negotiates to reduce prices of 10 essential prescription drugs)

These high costs force one in five Americans age 65 and older to skip or delay filling a prescription, skip or reduce a dose, or use someone else’s medicine, according to a study published in the Journal of the Medical Association. American. More than half of patients in the US are forced to use coupons or free samples to get the medications they need but can’t afford.

This can have particularly serious consequences for elderly and disabled people who rely on these medications to manage their chronic illnesses.

For this reason, the Government has taken on the task of negotiating the prices of these 10 medications with pharmaceutical companies.

Negotiations will take place in 2023 and 2024, and negotiated prices will take effect beginning in 2026, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website says. On September 1, 2024, CMS will publish the prices it agreed to with pharmaceutical companies in the first round of negotiations.

Four of the 10 drugs that the Government will negotiate: Farxiga, Xarelto, Entresto, and Eliquis at the New City Halsted pharmacy, in August 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.Scott Olson/Getty Images

Medicare provides health insurance coverage to 65 million people in the U.S., according to KFF, a nonpartisan group that studies health policy issues.

Prices exceed those of other countries

Per capita spending on pharmacists is almost three times higher in the US. than the average in other countries with similar purchasing power, such as Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia.

The price of Entresto, for example, a combination of sacubitril and valsartan used to treat chronic heart failure and help reduce the risk of hospitalization and death, is more than twice as high in the United States as it is in Switzerland. This is according to data from IQVIA, a firm that compiles international comparative pharmaceutical data, and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent agency that advises Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program.

Januvia (generic sitagliptin) is three times more expensive in the US than in the next country on the list, Canada: $18.34 per dose versus $3.33 in the northern neighbor. Januvia is used to treat high blood sugar levels caused by type 2 diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. In Germany, the same drug costs 89 cents.

Historical negotiations

The current negotiations occur thanks to a new law that President Joe Biden approved, the Inflation Reduction Act, in August 2022. Under the legislation, Medicare for the first time will be able to negotiate directly with manufacturers such as Janssen, Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca .

Some of the pharmaceutical companies, such as Merck and Johnson & Johnson, sued the Government to refuse to negotiate. The companies say allowing Medicare to negotiate prices will lead to lower profits, NBC News reports, causing drugmakers to reduce spending on research and development.