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Drug Costs Vary by 600% in Different Countries

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has studied the costs of prescription drugs in 10 high-income countries (seven European countries, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) and found that many of these medicines varied by more than 600%. (Citation source: http://buff.ly/2sGx1Fn)

They did not include the United Stated because of the high cost of pharmaceutical drugs and the lack of universal health care,  All countries except Canada offered universal coverage of outpatient prescription drugs.

The specifically looked at drugs common to primary care medicine. These primary care drugs included those for hypertension, NSAIDs, opioids, cholesterol-lowering drugs, noninsulin diabetes treatments, gastrointestinal medications and antidepressants.

Analyzing primary care medicines they found the cost range varied by more than 600%. For example, $23 in New Zealand to $171 in Switzerland. The volume of therapies purchased varied by 41%: from 198 days per capita in Norway to 279 days per capita in Germany.

In the 5 countries with universal, single-payer coverage of prescription medications, the average per-person cost was $77. Average costs were $99 in the 4 countries with universal social insurance for prescription drugs and $158 in Canada, which has a mixed system of private and public financing. Higher costs of drugs and the mix of therapies chosen accounted for most of the cost differences between countries.

 

Disclosures: 
The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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