After Martin Shkreli took a 5,000% price hike on a decades-old medicine and thwarted rivals, a movement grew to ensure companies could not corner the market on generics that lack patent protection and competition. But a new analysis suggests such efforts would not save tons of money, simply because total government spending on such drugs is not as much as some might imagine.

To wit, the total Medicare and Medicaid spending for 137 so-called single-source generic drugs was estimated to be $1.6 billion in 2018, but 89% of federal spending was concentrated among 20 generics. As a result, the researchers estimated that laws or regulations designed to boost competition and reduce prices would save the federal government between $328 million to $1.3 billion, depending on rebates.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!


What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy