Branded Price Variation in the United States Drug Market, 2010 to 2019

Joseph Levy, Benedic Ippolito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transaction price for branded drugs in the United States often varies widely by the eventual payer, a fact that can complicate research and policy discussions surrounding drug pricing. We combine publicly-available data on branded drug prices from a host of sources—prices paid by Medicare (Parts B and D), the Veterans Affairs Administration (VA), those included in the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS), invoice prices paid by pharmacies described in National Average Drug Acquisition Costs (NADAC), list prices, and payments ultimately received by drug makers—to illustrate how prices vary across the U.S. market and how these relationships changed from 2010 to 2019. We document large variation across payers and find VA prices are generally the lowest, averaging nearly 50% below list prices during our study period, which is meaningfully lower than the average prices manufacturers ultimately receive. Some net prices, like those in Part D and average payments received by manufacturers, have diverged substantially from list prices in the last decade and are now much closer to the published VA and FSS prices. In part, this reflects unexpected net price increases among published VA and FSS prices that is worthy of future study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1237-1240
Number of pages4
JournalValue in Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Medicare pricing
  • drug pricing
  • list prices
  • rebates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


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