- As BioPharma Dive has pointed out on many occasions, drug prices are much higher in the U.S. than in other countries. The main difference between the U.S. and the rest of the world is the relative lack of government intervention in pricing in the U.S.
- U.S. prices for certain drugs were, on average, six times higher in the U.S. than in Brazil, and 16 times higher in the U.S. than in India, according to an analysis conducted by Reuters.
- The Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) asserts that list prices are misleading, because they do not take negotiation-driven discounts into consideration.
The drug-pricing debate has been gathering momentum for some time now, but has finally started to reach a tipping point—the point at which pharmaceutical executives start to address their pricing mechanisms openly and, in some cases, respond to public pressure to lower prices. While it has long been understood that the same drugs in the U.S. cost more than in the rest of the world, the extend of the difference is striking.
While the U.S. allows drugs to be priced based on market competition, in the U.K. and other countries, there are government caps. The price of drugs in the U.S. increased 127% between 2008 and 2014, compared with an 11% overall inflation index. This leads many to ask whether the U.S. is carrying the burden of supporting the pharma industry and helping to offset risks, while the rest of the world enjoys access to brand-name drugs at far lower prices.
It's not quite so simple, according to PhRMA and other industry advocates. They point out that the U.S. has higher survival rates for diseases such as cancer and that there are programs in place to make drugs available to poorer individual through various access schemes. In addition, they note, it's important to take into consideration that 85% of all prescribing is for generics.
In the final analysis, this conversation is part of an ongoing debate that will likely gain even more attention as the 2016 U.S. election cycle heats up.