Each year, millions of Americans struggle to afford prescription drugs. Reason: The ever-increasing prescription drug prices in the country. As compared to the prices of food, alcohol, clothing, and accessories, prescription drugs go through a steep price increase every year.
Out of all these commodities mentioned, pharmaceutical drugs are, perhaps, the most important ones. Even though they have a huge impact on patients’ lives, these are still highly priced – leaving no other choice with the patients, but to buy them. In turn, this further increases the prescription drugs costs. Coming out of this vicious circle of price rise seems like an impossibility, at least in the near future.
Prescription Drug Prices Trends
- In 2007, the AARP reported that prescription drug prices in the nation climbed almost twice as high as America’s general inflation rate in 2006.
- In 2010, prescription drug expenses accounted 10% of the $2.6 trillion of total health care expenditures made in the country.
- In 2016, a publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that the per capita spending on prescription drugs was $858 in 2013, as compared to an average of $400 for 19 other industrialized nations.
- In July 2017, study by the Commonwealth Fund highlighted that from 2013 to 2018, the growth in health care spending is estimated at 5.2 percent, while the growth in prescription drug spending is expected to be 7.2 percent.
Factors contributing to high prescription drug prices in the U.S.
Increasing prescription drug prices affect not only the patients but also the providers, payers, and policymakers. Some of the factors that collectively lead to an increase in the U.S. prescription drug prices include:
- High prices for new launches and high annual hikes for patented brand-name drugs
- Monopolies for drugs that help some of the manufacturers to increase their prices sharply
- Anticompetitive behavior by some manufacturers also results in less competition and higher prices
- Monopoly pricing exercised by some brand-name drugs’ manufacturers using current patent-protection policies
- Absence of strong competition amongst generic drugs’ manufacturers, which leads to higher drug prices
- Lack of information among patients, providers, and payers about the effectiveness of different drugs
- While searching for the most suitable course of treatment available, many patients, providers, and payers are not provided necessary pricing information by the pharmaceutical distribution system
- Failure of the policymakers to implement important price-related measures that can help in controlling the high prescription drug prices
The Way Ahead
While the prices of prescriptions drugs are governed mainly by the policymakers and the drug manufacturers, there are a few actions that patients can take to avoid getting stuck in the dreadful cycle of high-cost pharmaceutical drugs. Some of these actions are:
- Search for a pharmacy that offers discounts. Doing this can help you reduce your yearly expenses on prescription drugs by a great margin.
- Use drug discount cards. These cards are usually available free of cost and can help you negotiate on the pricing of prescription drugs and get them at somewhat affordable prices.