The Cost of Providing Drugs to the World


Being an American citizen comes with a ton of perks. However, affordable prescription medications are not one of those perks. The United States is known worldwide for its exceptionally high price of medication.

In fact, Americans pay 50 to 100 percent more on medications than any other country in the world. If you take a look at how much certain medications cost in the United States and compare their costs in other nations, you’ll notice a huge difference.

For example, Brits pay nothing for an asthma inhaler, while the same inhaler costs $175 in the United States. An antibiotic that costs $4.90 in the United States is less than a penny in Saudi Arabia. An allergy nasal spray will cost you $125 in the United States, but less than $5 in Romania. On average, each person in the United States forks out $983 on prescriptions every year.

Why are the prices of medications so high in the United States?

These high prices are a frustrating reality that every American has had to face at one point or another. Most of us are completely unaware of the reason behind these high prices, but the answer is simple. The research and development of new, innovative drugs is costing Americans a pretty penny.

The United States is the largest biopharmaceutical researcher in the world, and our pharmaceutical firms conduct 80 percent of the world’s research and development in biotechnology. However, all this research and development isn’t cheap.

How much does it cost to bring a new drug to market?

The average cost of a newly-developed drug in the U.S. ranges from $4 to $11 billion dollars. That means the pharmaceutical industry spends, on average, $225 billion per year on bringing new drugs to market.

While the cost is high, so are the results. The more a company puts into R&D, the more approvals for drugs they see. Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer all spent over $5 billion on R&D, and they all saw at least 10 of their drugs go on to get FDA approval and make it to the market.

Are these medications even worth the cost?

In 2012, 15 new drugs were approved by the FDA and noted for their significant contributions to the quality of life and health of clients. These medications helped in the fight against diseases such as breast cancer, chronic leukemia, HIV, and Cystic Fibrosis, just to name a few.

Although prescription prices are high, those medications saved clients thousands of dollars on additional health care services. Clients with conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and congestive heart failure saved $1,200 to $7,800 just by taking their medications.

Not only are Americans saving money on overall health care services, they are also living longer. Thanks to medical advancements over the past 60 years, men now live nine years longer and women ten years. Blood pressure medication alone has saved 89,000 deaths. While the cost of the medications may be high, the payoff is well worth it when you consider the lives improved, lengthened, and saved.

Take a look at this eye-opening infographic to learn the true price of innovative medications.


Click here to see the interactive version of The Cost of Providing Drugs to the World.

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Posted on February 17th, 2014 in Infographics

Editorial Staff

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