Rising prescription drug spending has led the United States and other countries to seek ways to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers. Currently, the Medicare Part D benefit, which offers outpatient prescription drug benefits to beneficiaries including elderly and certain disabled people, comprises competing prescription drug plans overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services from interfering with price negotiations between Part D plan sponsors and drug manufacturers and pharmacies. Some Members of Congress have proposed amending the statute to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers on behalf of Part D beneficiaries. GAO was asked to describe how prescription drug prices are negotiated. This testimony provides an overview of such efforts (1) by governments in other countries; (2) by U.S. private payers, such as employer-based health plans; and (3) by federal programs other than Medicare Part D. This testimony is based on previous GAO reports from 2002 through 2006 on federal programs that purchase or cover prescription drugs and other relevant literature from congressional agencies and federal or international organizations.
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