The Fund supports several networks of state health policymakers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund supports two state leadership programs for legislative and executive branch state government officials committed to improving population health.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis on topics important to state health policymakers, particularly on issues related to state leadership, primary care, aging, and health care costs.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is is a nonpartisan foundation focused on improving the health of communities and entire populations.
Original Scholarship Comparative Health Systems
Veronique C. Raimond
William B. Feldman
Benjamin N. Rome
Aaron S. Kesselheim
Mar 28, 2022
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: Prescription drug spending per capita in the United States is higher than in most other industrialized countries. Policymakers seeking to lower drug spending often suggest benchmarking prices against other countries, including France, which spends half as much as the United States per capita on prescription drugs. Because differences in drug prices may result from how markets are organized in each nation, we sought to directly compare drug prices and pricing regulations between the United States and France.
Methods: For the six brand‐name drugs with the highest gross expenditures in Medicare Part D in 2017, we compared the price dynamics in France and the United States between 2010 and 2018 and analyzed associations between price changes in each country and key regulatory events. We also comprehensively reviewed US and French laws and regulations related to drug pricing.
Findings: Prices for the six drugs studied were higher in the United States than in France. In 2018, if Medicare had paid French prices for the brand‐name drugs in our cohort, the agency would have saved $5.1 billion. We identified 12 factors that explain why the United States spends more than France on drugs, including variations in unit prices and the volume of prescriptions, driven by use of health technology assessment and value‐based pricing in France.
Conclusions: Key drivers of lower drug spending in France compared to the United States are that the French government regulates drug prices when products are launched and prohibits substantial price increases after launch. The regulation of prescription drugs in France is governed by rules that can inform discussions of US prescription drug policy and potential Medicare price negotiations.
Keywords: prescription drug prices, Medicare, drug regulation, France, United States.
Read on Wiley Online Library
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.