Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub,
MD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: Commentators have suggested
that the new Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act
would cost substantially less if the federal government were allowed to directly
negotiate drug prices for patients insured under Medicare.1 In
contrast, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that this effect would
be negligible and has emphasized substantial savings available through the
Medicare associated private plans.2 The Department
of Veterans Affairs directly negotiates with pharmaceutical companies for
the prices of dispensed prescriptions. We estimated the savings for a hypothetical
patient if the Medicare benefit utilized direct negotiation with pharmaceutical
companies similar to the approach used by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Hayes JM, Walczak H, Prochazka A. Comparison of Drug Regimen Costs Between the Medicare Prescription Discount Program and Other Purchasing Systems. JAMA. 2005;294(4):425-428. doi:10.1001/jama.294.4.427-b