Medicare drug price negotiations easier said than done

The idea that Medicare (the federal health insurance program for older and disabled Americans) should be able to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies is popular with the public — a recent poll by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and STAT found broad support across party lines — and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have floated proposals aiming to lower drug costs for Medicare patients. But policy experts say that the government actually has limited negotiating power with pharmaceutical companies, particularly for drugs in competitive categories.

“I don’t know of anyone who has thought this through as a realistic policy innovation because it has never been even close to happening,” John McDonough, professor of the practice of public health, said in a January 6, 2015 STAT article.

Read STAT article: Washington has big hopes, but little power, to negotiate drug prices