Americans Overpaying for Most Prescription Drugs, Reports Show

Thursday, October 1, 2015
FDA Recalls

Two new reports out this month have shed light on the hot-button topic of risking drug prices, offering unchallenged proof that we as Americans are getting ripped off and subsidizing treatment for the rest of the world.

As it stands, the prescription drug and medical device lobbying efforts are the largest in the United States, spending more than $250 million each year to try to persuade our lawmakers. And what these companies repeatedly ask for is less legal rights for patients and less regulation on prices.

Now, separate reports released in recent weeks show we may be paying up to 10 times more than patients in other countries for the same drugs. And, drug companies are charging up to 600 times more for drugs than it costs to produce them.

The first report surfaced on September 22nd, when Dr. Andrew Hill of the University of Liverpool revealed his preliminary findings of a review of the costs of critical cancer medications in countries around the world.

Hill based his study on costs for tyrosine kinase inhibitors, a powerful class of drugs gaining in popularity for treating various types of cancer due to the fact they have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

As an example, he found that leukemia drug Glivec from Novartis only costs $159 per year to produce, but is sold for $106,000 in the United States. This is compared to around $30,000 in Europe.

The lung cancer treatment Tarceva from Roche costs only $236 per year to produce; however it is sold for $79,000 here in the U.S. It averages only $27,500 in Europe.

Lastly, the cancer drug Tykerb, also from Novartis, costs $4,000 to produce, but is sold for $74,000 here and $35,000 in Europe.

Next, the International Federation of Health Plans released the findings of its latest study on drug prices in first-world countries. It found that Americans pay as much as 10 times more for the same drugs as similar patients in Europe, Canada, Australia and South America.

Some common examples were the depression medication Cymbalta from Eli Lilly, which costs $194 in the United States but only $46 in England and $110 in Canada.

The acid reflux disease fighter Nexium from AstraZeneca costs $215 in the U.S. but only $60 in Switzerland and just $23 in the Netherlands.

The reason for the difference is largely due to price limits set by other governments and health providers that are not present in the United States. So most companies recoup developmental costs and profits lost in other countries by charging U.S. consumers more.

Drug companies also argue that they have to make decent profits to continue developing new and unique treatments for emerging and changing medical conditions.

However, as Dr. Andrew Hill points out, the U.S. GDP is not nearly as high by comparison to other countries as the price hikes on our system. Therefore, we are paying much more than our collective share.

And, don’t forget: drug company lobbyists are working every day to erode the legal rights of those injured by their drugs. If they had their way, no one would be entitled to compensation for the injury or death of a loved one.

Check back for more from DrugNews on the efforts to equalize drug prices in the United States.



Hirschler, B. Exclusive: Americans overpaying hugely for cancer drugs – study. Reuters. (September 22, 2015). Retrieved from

Wasserman, E. How much more does the U.S. pay for drugs? Up to 10 times more, report says. FiercePharma. (September 28, 2015). Retrieved from

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