Bloomberg puts drug price markups on the map

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reporters Robert Langreth, David Ingold, and Jackie Gu published their results of a fascinating deep dive into Medicaid generic drug prices in their article, “The Secret Drug Pricing System Middlemen Use to Rake in Millions.”

The piece did an excellent job explaining the ins and outs of the hidden pricing spreads that exist on generic drugs, and it featured some intuitive visualizations that helped educate readers who may not have been familiar with these little-known drug price tactics.

If you’ve been following our work since our launch last month, you know that we are no strangers to these types of practices. Drug pricing is complex, and supply chain members routinely take advantage of that complexity.

Bloomberg’s methodology was nearly identical to what we used to create our Medicaid Drug Pricing Heat Map, so not surprisingly, the results were very similar as well. For example, their analysis of generic Gleevec (imatinib) essentially mirrored the trends we identified in our first research piece, "The Cancerous Design of the U.S. Drug Pricing System."

The analysis conducted by Bloomberg also integrated the results of a recent report from the state of Ohio's Auditor, which found that in a one-year span, PBMs pocketed more than $224 million dollars in spread pricing. Armed with this data, we set out to discover if we could deduce what pharmacy margins were over that same time period in an effort to peel back new layers of the onion and provide better information on where the money is going.

Check out our newest drug pricing report to learn more about where the money is going on hidden prescription drug markups.


Thanks to Isabella McKinley and the team at Vice News Tonight on HBO for their recent feature examining pending mergers of PBMs and insurance companies. 46brooklyn's co-founder Antonio Ciaccia was featured in their easy-to-digest cartoon highlighting the complexities of prescription drug pricing.