United States Pays 81% More for Medications Than Canada, Six Western European Nations, Study Finds
On average, the United States pays 81% more for patented brand-name prescription drugs than Canada and six Western European countries, marking a "significant increase" from a 60% price differential in 2000, according to a study issued Thursday by Boston University's School of Public Health, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Researchers looked at data released earlier this month by the Canadian government that compared the cost in the United States and abroad of more than 1,000 brand-name prescription drugs. The data did not identify the prices of specific drugs.
Researchers found that U.S. buyers pay 118% more than Italians for the same medications and 108% more than the French -- the two largest gaps in the study. The study says that Switzerland has the closest prices to the United States, with the United States paying 58% more than the Swiss for the same prescription drugs. Canadians pay 75% less than in the United States for the same medications.
Deborah Socolar, co-author of the study and co-director of Boston University's health reform program, said, "Congress has left prescription drug makers free to raise their prices here without controls, so we see the consequences over time. ... What we really need to be doing in this country is obtain Canadian-type prices rather than Canadian prescription drugs themselves."
Jeff Trewhitt, spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said that the United States produces 60% to 70% of the world's new prescription drugs, and countries with "lower prices have government-mandated price controls that have clearly hurt the ability of pharmaceutical companies in those countries to create new medicines" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/29).
The study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat to view this report.