Medicare paid $26B for drugs that didn't make cut in Australia, Canada, UK

Medicare spent $26 billion in recent years on dozens of medicines that three other wealthy nations didn't recommend for coverage because they deemed them to be of little value, according to a new study cited by STAT.

For the study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers identified 134 drugs approved by the FDA before 2016 that were not endorsed by health agencies in Australia, Canada and the U.K. The three nations have health technology assessments that determine whether  drugs should be covered based on effectiveness and cost.

The researchers found that Medicare covered most of the drugs that were not recommended for coverage in other countries. In particular, Medicare covered 83 percent of the medicines not recommended in Australia; 95 percent of the drugs not recommended in Canada; and 79 percent of the drugs not recommended in the U.K. 

The findings on Medicare spending come as lawmakers attempt to rein in rising prescription drug costs in the U.S. 

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