Americans Pay Far More for Medications Than Anywhere in the World

July 14, 2014
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Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 12.23.00 PMAmericans Pay Far More for Medications Than Anywhere in the World – The International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) released its Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 12.23.00 PMAmericans Pay Far More for Medications Than Anywhere in the World – The International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) released its 2013 Comparative Price Report, detailing its annual survey of medical prices. The report examines the price of medical procedures, tests, scans and treatments in nine countries. This year the survey also shows pricing for five specialty prescription drugs.  As in prior years, the survey data shows that the United States continues to have the highest fees of those countries surveyed for drugs and various medical procedures.

Some of the larger disparities were in prescription and specialty drugs prices.  For example, the price for the cancer drug Gleevec ranged from $989 in New Zealand to $6,214, the average price paid in the United States. The price paid for the drug Copaxone ranged from $862 in England to $3,903 in the United States.

Other more common drugs such as Cymbalta, commonly prescribed for depression, cost less than $100 in Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and England.  Cymbalta cost an average of $110 in Canada and $194 in the United States. Similarly, a drug prescribed for acid reflux averages from $33 in the Netherlands to $215 in the United States.

IFHP’s Chief Executive Tom Sackville explained why he believed to the data to be important.

“We have looked here at a number of procedures and products which are identical across the markets surveyed. The price variations bear no relation to health outcomes: they merely demonstrate the relative ability of providers to profiteer at the expense of patients, and in some cases reflect a damaging degree of market failure.”

Prices examined in the study included those from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The data for the report was gathered from participating IFHP member organizations in each country.   Prices in the U.S. were based on prices negotiated between private health plans and health care providers.

The IFHP was founded in 1968 by a group of health fund industry leaders, and is now the leading global network of the industry, with more than 80 member companies across 25 countries. IFHP aims to assist in the maintenance of high ethical and professional standards throughout the industry.
See this VOX post for more perspective.

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