The Future of Drug Pricing: Cleveland Clinic's Profitability and the Impact of Medicare Drug Negotiation

Ben H.

Ben H.

Dec 24, 20233 min read


The Future of Drug Pricing: Cleveland Clinic's Profitability and the Impact of Medicare Drug Negotiation

In a surprising turn of events, Cleveland Clinic has announced its return to profitability in the first quarter, with a net income of $335.46 million. This marks a significant rebound from the previous year's loss of $282.46 million and a staggering $1.25 billion loss for the full year. These impressive numbers place Cleveland Clinic among the top two institutions in terms of net income, just behind Emory with $2.2 billion.

While this news is undoubtedly positive for Cleveland Clinic, it also raises questions about the future of drug pricing in the United States. Recent developments in the healthcare industry have sparked a heated debate around the creation of a taxpayer-funded drug negotiation infrastructure, particularly with regards to Medicare drug negotiation.

Medicare drug negotiation, a concept that has long been implemented by governments worldwide, is a groundbreaking approach for the United States. The implementation of this infrastructure has ignited discussions about its potential success or failure in shaping the future of drug pricing in the country.

Jason Borschow, President and CEO of Abarca Health, a leading pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), firmly believes that the creation of this infrastructure will become the standard for drug pricing in the future. Borschow argues that even the largest PBMs are unable to provide a solution for drugs with no competition. Therefore, he advocates for a balanced approach where government negotiation is limited to drugs lacking competition, allowing private markets to determine what's best for their region.

Borschow further highlights the flaws in the current U.S. healthcare system, which he believes incentivizes high list prices for drugs. He emphasizes the importance of transparency in the drug pricing process, with PBMs like Abarca Health, EmsanaRx, and CapitalRx aiming to bring more clarity by showing clients the net cost of prescriptions. By unveiling each step of the pricing process, from the list price to the price paid by patients, these PBMs hope to address price disparities and ensure that the right people benefit from the system.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it is crucial to consider actionable steps that can drive positive change in drug pricing. Here are three key pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace transparency: Transparency is the foundation for a fair and equitable drug pricing system. By providing patients and pharmacies with clear information about the pricing process, we can empower them to make informed decisions and hold pharmaceutical supply chain participants accountable.
  • 2. Foster competition: Encouraging competition in the pharmaceutical industry is vital to drive down prices and ensure access to affordable medications. Government negotiation should primarily focus on drugs without competition, while private markets should have the flexibility to determine pricing strategies based on regional needs.
  • 3. Prioritize patient-centricity: The ultimate goal of any drug pricing system should be to prioritize patient well-being. By considering the impact of pricing decisions on patients and ensuring that the right people benefit from the system, we can create a more patient-centric approach that promotes affordability and accessibility.

In conclusion, the recent profitability of Cleveland Clinic and the ongoing discussions surrounding Medicare drug negotiation shed light on the future of drug pricing in the United States. While challenges and debates persist, incorporating transparency, fostering competition, and prioritizing patient-centricity can pave the way for a fairer and more sustainable drug pricing system. Only through collaborative efforts and innovative solutions can we shape a future where healthcare remains affordable and accessible to all.


  1. "Cleveland Clinic returned to profitability in the first quarter", (Glasp)
  2. "Medicare Drug Negotiation Is the Model for the Future of Drug Pricing, Abarca CEO Says - MedCity News", (Glasp)

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