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There’s really no ignoring the inexorable math that led the Senate to approve a plan that will give Medicare unprecedented power to set the prices of some drugs.

By the 1990s, a course of a breakthrough cancer drug like Taxol might already cost about $10,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. By the early 2000s, Gleevec, one of the most potent cancer medicines ever, would be about $30,000. By 2006, to prevent public outcry, Genentech capped the cost of Avastin, its lung cancer medicine, at about $75,000 in today’s dollars. These days, a medication like Keytruda can cost $150,000 per course.


The average launch price of a cancer drug increased by $8,500 from 1995 to 2013. The Government Accountability Office found in 2021 that the prices for new medicines were double to quadruple the levels seen in France, Australia, or Canada.

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