Every year, Americans spend $1,200 on prescription drugs – more than any developed country in the world. Americans also pay three times as much as British citizens for the top 20 drugs on the market. Pharmaceutical companies reasoned that high prices of medicine are due to innovation, as new and improved drugs cost more in research. However, a study from the Journal of Health Affairs suggests that distorted prices in America are a result of companies raising prices on already available drugs.
In 2014, Sanofi pharmaceutical increased the price of Lantus, a brand of insulin that has been on the market for over a decade – by almost 50%. Examples as such reveal the fault in the American pharmaceutical system. Prescription drug prices are driven by the United States’ competitive market meaning; upon government approval, companies can set prices however they want. However, European governments play a role in centralizing price negotiations, which allows them to cap or push prices down if they are too high. Pharmaceutical companies noticed a loophole in the United States to gain massive profits – and it comes at a cost for Americans.
A 2016 survey found that uninsured Americans are three times more likely than insured adults to skip or postpone their prescriptions because they can’t afford it. This crisis in the United States requires a second look at the systems in place to ensure all Americans are getting the prescriptions they need at a price they can afford.