U.S. residents are paying more than twice as much for prescription drugs as people living in other countries. A paper by think tank Rand Corporation found that U.S. prescription drug prices surpassed those in 32 other countries by around 150 percent on average. U.S. patients are even paying upwards of triple the price for Rx drugs as Koreans, Greeks, Portuguese, Slovakians and residents of the Baltic countries, the analysis found.
Turkey had the cheapest prescription drug prices in the comparison, with Americans paying almost eight times as much as residents of the Adriatic country.
This chart shows the percentage by which the prices of U.S. prescription drugs surpass those in … [+] other selected countries.
On the other side of the spectrum is the U.S.’ neighbor to the South, Mexico. Compared to local prices there, Americans are paying a premium of 70 percent on top—one of the lowest in the survey followed by Chile and Switzerland. In the case of all three countries, an inadequate supply of cheaper generic drugs is the reason for comparably high prices.
Considering only brand-name drugs, Americans are paying between three and five times as much for prescriptions as Mexicans, Chileans and the Swiss. However, generic prescription drugs are twice as expensive in Mexico and Chile as they are in the U.S., while prices for them are even higher in Switzerland.
The price of generic drugs in the U.S. generally fared well throughout the survey, with 15 out of 32 countries having more expensive prescription generics. However, this price advantage does not even begin to make up for the U.S.’ sky-high prices for branded drugs.
Prices still rising
U.S. prescription drug spending has increased by 76 percent between 2000 and 2017, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and is expected to keep growing. According to the makers of the report, prescription drug spending as a share of healthcare spending is comparable in the U.S. and other countries, pointing to the fact that inflated prices are affecting all parts of the U.S. healthcare system. They also found that adjusting the findings for per-capita income can explain a portion of the difference in international drug prices, but not all.
Limited competition among drug companies in the United States has been pointed out as one of the reasons explaining the rest of the difference. A regulatory apparatus that is focused on safety, but not on affordability, is another. These price checks are present in European countries, explaining comparably low prices in high-income countries like the UK, France or Germany. Likewise, all other developed nations severely restrict the advertisement of prescription drugs, which is another spending source for pharmaceutical companies with the potential to increase prices as well as consumption of branded drugs.

Charted by Statista

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