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An axiom in the overheated debate about prescription drug pricing is that Americans are often charged more than what is paid by people in other countries. And internal data from one large drug maker illustrates the point.

In 2014, the most recent year for which data was available, Novartis (NVS) headquarters in Switzerland charged its U.S. subsidiary significantly more for four medicines than what its subsidiaries paid in roughly a dozen other countries. These included several well-to-do nations such as the U.K., Germany, and France. And the difference in pricing ranged anywhere from 45 percent to 176 percent, after adjusting for currency fluctuations and packaging.


For instance, the U.S. unit was charged $8,911 for a month’s supply of 10 mg tablets of the Afinitor cancer treatment, compared with $5,260 in Germany, $5,233 in France, and roughly $4,935 in the U.K. For Exjade, which is used to treat iron toxicity, the U.S. unit paid $2,561 for a month’s supply of 500 mg tablets, while Germany paid $1,216, France paid $995 and the price was $837 in the U.K.

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