The Top Reasons for High Cost Prescription Medications

The Top Reasons for High Cost Prescription Medications

United States patients have been experiencing sticker shock as the costs for prescribed medications continue to rise. The issue continues to boil over hot flames after one pharmaceutical company after another announces price increases on medicines that are life-saving for many.

Medical groups have publicly blasted these companies, and even former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has called out these companies for ‘price gouging’. Even with promises from CEOs to ‘look into the matter’, this issue is much larger than just one medication or one company.

Between 2008 and 2014, the median prices for many of the most commonly used prescription medications jumped over 120%. Companies have justified this increase citing drug shortages, competition and rising research costs.

Advocates for the price increases have stated that these drug costs actually help patients save money because they are able to avoid expensive hospitalization and complications. However, patients say that insurance plans that require them to pay a large co-pay have made more expensive drugs unaffordable. With the rollout of new drugs for conditions like Hepatitis and cancer, medication treatments for an entire year could cost over $100,000.

As a result, many patients are now turning to alternatives like online pharmacies to get the medications they need at prices they can afford. However, the question still remains, why are these drugs so expensive?

Extensive Patents

One reason for these soaring prices is that the patents drug makers get in the United States are much longer than the ones in other countries. This means that pharmaceutical companies do not have any competition for two decades from the time they are granted the patent. These patents are usually filed while the drug is still in its testing phase, and this means the clock starts ticking before the medication is available to the public.

No Price Regulations

Unlike other countries, the United States government does not offer any regulations on prescription medicine prices. Instead, pharmaceutical companies create wholesale prices. These prices are primarily based on the costs of competing drugs.

Little to No Competition

For the majority of prescription medications on the market, there is not a lot of competition. Less competition means that the sky is the limit for what many drug makers charge. Some previously sold generic drugs were not priced high enough for them to be profitable for drug makers, and they stopped selling them.

For other drugs that are used to treat very rare medical conditions, the cost of production is too much for many manufacturers. This means that the manufacturer that is still standing after the dust has settled will hold a monopoly over that particular market.

Less Generics Entering the Market

There are fewer genetic medications being produced. After the wave of patent expirations that occurred between 2011 and 2013, the percentage of popular drugs that have expiring patents has dramatically declined. This alone has been a major reason U.S. medication spending has increased.

So, what can patients do to fight against these rising costs? They can speak with their doctor about creating a plan to save money on their medications, ask for samples (which are free) or consider getting a discount prescription card.

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