Specialty pharmacy will be 50% of a health plan’s drug spend by 2018. By 2020 pharmacy will be 50% of total healthcare spend. Pharmacy is the most utilized and least understood of healthcare costs.
Why are costs for prescriptions so much higher in the United States than other countries? The easy answer is that Americans are paying a disproportionate share of the research cost for prescription drugs. The why is a little more complicated. It’s compulsory pricing, a law countries have on the books that states if the government can’t reach an agreement with drug companies over a price the government is willing to pay, the government can say the drug companies are not making their products available in the country, and can license a different company to make and sell the drug. Either drug companies negotiate a deal in with low profit, to cover manufacturing, or they lose their intellectual property rights.
So why not import drugs from other countries to bring more competition into the US market to lower costs? Safety. Large volumes of ‘unapproved’ drugs that enter the US pose a threat to the security of our nation’s drug supply. The potential of being flooded with unsafe and counterfeit drugs could kill thousands of Americans.
Proper security requires careful monitoring and control. Companies must put anti-counterfeiting and anti-tampering markings on every drug they make around the world. Although that currently works well in some countries, in others it’s problematic. We increase the threat of terrorism, ‘friendly’ or not, with each additional country we import prescription drugs.
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