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Deal reached on cutting some US drug costs -report

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - Drug manufacturers have agreed to offer up to $80 billion in prescription drug discounts to government programs like Medicare, The Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing an unidentified source close to the talks.

The board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America on Friday approved the 10-year agreement which would affect those Medicare patients who have a gap in their prescription drug coverage, the newspaper reported.

Medicare, the health insurance program for older and disabled Americans, has a gap in which some patients must pay full price for medicines after total costs reach a certain level, often referred to as the “doughnut hole”.

The proposed agreement would cut prices in half for the gap and also offer other discounts and rebates, giving President Barack Obama key savings as he pushes to overhaul the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system, The Washington Post reported.

Representatives for the industry association and a White House spokesman were not immediately available for comment.

Addressing the costs of healthcare has been a top priority for Obama as they outpace inflation. Obama has also pledged to help the 46 million people without health insurance, but he faces a tough battle over how to accomplish those goals. (Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by Mohammad Zargham)