New visualization tool examines the wild universe of prescription drug price markups

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been reflecting more on how neat Bloomberg’s Ohio Medicaid markup bubble chart was in their recent article, “The Secret Drug Pricing System Middlemen use to Rake in Millions.”

We’re kicking ourselves now that we neglected to delve deeper into this in our report, “Bloomberg Puts Drug Pricing ‘Markups’ on the Map.” But like fine wine, good visualizations only get better with time, so it took us a few weeks to fully realize the possibilities that such data analysis could open up.

Bloomberg’s excellent visualization does, however, leave a few open questions. What do other state Medicaid managed care programs look like? How do they compare to state fee-for-service programs? What do all states look like?

To answer these questions, we set out to build a new visualization dashboard to compare drug markups between state Medicaid programs. We call our creation the “Medicaid Markup Universe” (because it looks very celestial).

In this new visualization tool, we found a disturbingly large difference in drug markups across generic drugs in state Medicaid managed care programs, resulting in a slew of warped incentives that pressure supply chain members to value certain medications over others, and thus, certain patients over others.

Check out our newest visualization tool and read our latest drug pricing report.


We recently were invited on the Side Affects podcast, where we had the pleasure of discussing the founding of 46brooklyn and our foray into the complicated world of drug pricing with Scott McGohan, the CEO of the employee benefits consulting firm, McGohan Brabender. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. For complete details, visit the McGohan Brabender Side Affects page. Kudos to the team at McGohan Brabender for their healthy skepticism of the status quo in the prescription drug supply chain.

Side Affects podcast

Side Affects podcast