Pharmaceutical Spending in U.S. Highest of OECD Countries Despite U.S.’ Much Greater Use of GenericsP

“Compared with peer countries, the United States spends about 200% more per capita on prescription drugs. In 2016, the United States spent approximately $329 billion on prescription drugs, a number likely to grow. Recent OECD data show that Americans spend about $1200 per capita on prescription drugs per year. Despite the higher rate of generic drug dispensing in the United States than in other countries (84% compared with 30% for Australia, the country with the lowest rate), overall per capita pharmaceutical spending is highest among OECD countries. Unlike most peer nations, the United States does not have a centralized government body that negotiates drug prices or determines which drugs government programs will cover. The U.S. regulatory environment enables pharmaceutical companies to raise prices by any amount without justification. Although some new drugs offer therapeutic innovation and improvement, price increases for established brand-name drugs contribute substantially to growing prescription drug spending .”

Crowley R, Daniel H, Cooney TG, et al, for the Health and Public Policy Committee of the American College of Physicians. Envisioning a Better U.S. Health Care System for All: Coverage and Cost of Care. Ann Intern Med. 2020;172:S7–S32.

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