Pegaspargase – an example of how we don’t control drug costs

You can fool nearly all the people...

Under Medicare Part B, America’s seniors are entitled to drugs administered in the hospital, but they are responsible for 20% of the cost. That sounds reasonable, and Medicare officials say they carefully scrutinize drugs before approval.

But I have yet to discover a list of unapproved drugs. It appears that if the FDA says it can be sold, Medicare pays for it at list price. For a $50 drug, this seems reasonable. You would pay $10, and Medicare would pay $40 if administered in a hospital..

Not all drugs are priced equally, and paying for some – even at 20% – could be a financial disaster.

For example, Pegaspargase is a biologic that treats leukemia. It’s on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. The course of recommended treatment is two vials every 14 days for up to six months.

Each vial costs Medicare $17,566. Since negotiation of drug…

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