Outrageous prescription drug prices in the United States are only getting worse. Unfortunately it’s not just brand name drugs but generics that are seeing huge pricing hikes too. Even normally more cost effective generic medications have seen subjected to large price increases. Over 300 generic drugs since 2012 have doubled in price. Common drugs like digoxin, ursodiol or levothyroxine have increased in price between 50% and 500%. This puts a lot of pressure on payers of all types; from employers and insurers to Medicare and the average American consumer. Unfortunately this means everyone ends up paying more, whether through direct payments, higher premiums, copays, or deductibles.
Everyone expects this kind of behavior from brand name drug manufacturers but generic drugs are supposed to be cheaper and more affordable. Brand name drugs take years to develop, test and get approved. They require massive investments and often end up failing, resulting in a loss for the company. Generic manufacturers do not have these costs. If they begin producing a generic version of a drug and decide that it’s not as profitable as they’d like, they can drop it without worrying about throwing away major institutional investments. This gives them flexibility but can lead to supply shortages and higher prices if they decide it’s not profitable to produce a drug.
Consolidations in the industry also reduce the overall number of manufacturers, decreasing competition and raising prices. While generics have seen big price hikes lately they’re generally still cheaper than brand name drugs. Yet it shows that strategies to lower costs, like looking for cheaper generic versions of brand name products, may be less fruitful than they should to be. Americans are faced with a lot of financial uncertainty around their prescription drugs and medical care in general. Changes in copays, deductibles, premiums and drug formularies do not help. It also remains to be seen what changes will be made to the Affordable Care Act in the coming months.
Americans need more choices when it comes to affordable health care. Many have turned to international pharmacies like Canada Drugs to help with their prescription drug costs. We can often provide options and solutions to prescription drug problems. Many people order their less expensive generic medications at a local pharmacy while getting brand name medications from Canada Drugs as our prices are generally much lower than local prices.