A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that Medicare spent nearly $8 billion on insulin in 2017, but the US public health insurance program could save around half of the amount if it were allowed to negotiate drug prices, as reported by U.S. News & World.
Lead author William Feldman said "Medicare now accounts for a third of all drug spending. Legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate prices and establish a central formulary would help save taxpayers money."
Other governments, such as Canada, use their large buying power to negotiate better prices, but legislation that established Medicare Part D in the US said Medicare cannot interfere with negotiations between health plans and pharmaceutical companies, according to the journal Health Affairs.
In the study, researchers looked at Medicare Part D spending in 2017, comparing insulin prices between Medicare Part D and what the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) paid for the same medications.
Researchers, who looked at 31 different insulins, found that total spending on insulin for Medicare Part D was $7.8 billion after manufacturer rebates.
If Medicare had been able to use the same prices negotiated by the VA, it would have saved $2.9 billion, and if it could use VA pricing and a national formulary, the projected savings would be $4.4 billion, the study found.
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