For the growing chorus of politicians who think that Medicare Part D should look more like the benefits offered by the VA, consider the following …
(1) A study by Professor Frank Lichtenberg of Columbia University found that the majority of the VA National Formulary’s drugs are more than 8 years old, with just 19% of its prescription drugs approved since 2000 and 38% of prescription drugs approved between 1990-2000.
(2) The VA imposes an automatic one-year hold on most new medicines while it “studies” the effects.” For many important medicines such as Gleevec for stomach cancer or drugs for mental illness, patients must “fail first” on a cheaper drug before they get a breakthrough.
(3) Lichtenberg found that veterans’ life expectancy increased significantly before the National Formulary was introduced (between 1991-1997)) but did not increase and may have declined after the National Formulary was introduced (between 1997-2002). Yet, the life expectancy of all U.S. males increased both before and after 1997.