High drug prices are taking a toll not only on consumers’ wallets but on their health.
The rising cost of prescription drugs is one of the greatest barriers to medication adherence that patients in the United States face. In 2016, 36 million US adults did not fill prescriptions that they thought were too expensive,1 and given that these patients did not receive the full treatment needed, it seems fair to say that high drug prices are taking a toll not only on consumers’ wallets but on their health.
In a recent editorial, Forbes Chief Executive Steve Forbes wrote that it costs $2.4 billion on average to bring a new drug to market. Because the patent on a new drug expires only about 8 years after its launch, manufacturers are forced to initially charge top dollar to recoup the cost of developing the drug, he wrote. Additionally, Forbes wrote that drug prices are often far lower overseas because foreign buyers—usually government agencies—demand that American pharmaceutical companies sell their drugs for far less than they do in the United States. As a result, it has fallen on US patients to shoulder the burden of drug development costs.2
To help bridge this gap, Forbes offered a proposal: Refuse to sell American medications to countries that are unwilling to pay their fair share.2
President Donald J. Trump echoed this suggestion in a recent statement, calling for an end to “global freeloading,” while urging tougher negotiation and more competition.3
The extent to which any of these approaches will affect drug prices is unclear, but there can be little doubt that the status quo is not working. As we work toward a solution, pharmacists must work with patients and their prescribers to find affordable treatments, and to educate patients about the importance of medication adherence.
Pharmacists also play a crucial role in promoting women’s health. To help them in this endeavor, this issue of Pharmacy Times® contains practical information on menopause, postpartum depression, prenatal vitamins, and more, as well as free continuing-education activities on digestive health and homeopathy.
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