Have you noticed that medications have eaten up a bigger part of your paycheck over the last few years? You’re not alone. Prescription prices have been skyrocketing for decades — and there’s little sign that they’re slowing down. In the 1990s medications were just 7% of all healthcare expenses. By 2013, that shot up to 15.3%. It increased even more, to 16.7%, in 2015.
What accounts for the high prices? A lot of it has to do with outdated and ineffective drug policies in the United States. Most governments negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. If they can’t come to an agreement, then that medication simply isn’t sold at all. That tends to drive down the price all over the world. America, on the other hand, is actually forbidden from haggling over drug prices. pharmacists in 26 states are required to get patient consent before switching a brand name prescription to a generic prescription
Additionally, other policies make it harder for patients to get cheaper generic drugs. Even though generic drugs are equally safe and effective, pharmacists in 26 states are required to get patient consent before switching a brand name prescription to a generic prescription. This costs patients every year.
One possible solution is to legalize importing drugs from Canada, which has much lower drug prices. For example, in 2013 the average price of Nexium, which treats acid reflux, was $30 in Canada but $305 in the United States. While there is some support in U.S. Congress for this policy, there isn’t enough to the law changed.
Want to learn more about why American drug prices are so high, plus tips on saving on prescriptions? Check out this infographic below.
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