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Prescription drug prices in the US
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DescriptionBusiness essay about drug prices in the United States
Prescription Drug Prices in the U.S.
The prices of prescription drugs in the United States are by far the highest in the world.  On average, Europeans pay 40% less than Americans for the same medications.  Consumers have been resorting to several ways, sometimes putting themselves in harm’s way, to alleviate the burden of high prescription drug costs. Some buy their medications online or cross the borders to neighboring countries so they would be able to afford buying their needed medications. Others have resorted to the illegal act of selling their unused medications in online forums just to recover part of their expenses. Many factors contribute to the increased drug prices in the United States including research and development costs, FDA rules and regulations, the lack of government price controls and liability costs.
With more than 10 million people bringing in medications through the borders and 2 million international packages containing pharmaceutical products arriving annually, American consumers spend billions of dollars on “imported” drugs per year. Many uninsured people purchase cheaper prescription drugs online from countries like Canada, UK and India saving between 60 to 80 % off the US prices. The problem with this practice arises from the fact that consumers do not know if these medications are exactly the same as the ones prescribed to them which puts them in harm’s way. Many medications have different forms (long acting, slow release…etc) and a layperson might not be able to distinguish between those forms. Another issue is that many dugs manufactured outside of the United States do not abide by the U.S. safety regulations and their doses could be different from their actual “claimed” levels and some have impurities or toxic substances such as lead. All of these factors combined should urge a decrease in prescription drug prices to encourage this high number of consumers to drop these potentially harmful practices.
Surprisingly, the costs of developing and obtaining FDA approvals for new drugs surpass the costs of manufacturing them later on. It is reported that the initial cost of developing a new drug and getting it FDA approved is approximately $800 million. With a return of 17% on revenue, the pharmaceutical industry topped the list of the most profitable businesses in the U.S. The pharmaceutical companies represent a very strong economical power that can not be ignored and they have tremendous support of lobbyists in Washington who would lobby Congress and protect their interests. The pharmaceutical industry spent $855 million, which exceeded the expenditure of any other industry, on lobbying activities from 1998 to 2006. Having such strong congressional support helps pharmaceutical companies gain “immunity” against any changes in laws that would enforce price controls or protect the consumers’ interests.
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