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How Do U.S. Prescription Costs Stack Up Against Other Countries?

Did you know that prescription drug costs in the United States are much higher than other developed countries? Despite intense scrutiny from insurance companies, consumer groups and lawmakers, prices still rose almost 10 percent from May 2015 to May 2016. This complex issue has no easy solution, and it will only continue to cause difficulties for millions of Americans who cannot afford vital medications. 

Brand-name drugs are particularly expensive in the U.S., and their generic counterparts are usually stuck in the application backlogs of the FDA for many years. Even taking negotiated discounts into consideration, a 2015 Bloomberg News Analysis found that prescription prices were still higher than in other countries:

  • Crestor, A Cholesterol-lowering pill
    • U.S. (with discount): $86.40
    • Germany: $40.50
    • Australia: $8.70
  • Januvia, Diabetes pill
    • U.S. (with discount): $168.61
    • Canada: $68.10
    • Norway: $34.20
  • Gleevec, Chronic myeloid leukemia pill
    • U.S. (no discount available): $10,122.30
    • United Kingdom: $2,645.10
    • France: $2,303.10

Recent research from Harvard Medical School uncovered several key factors behind the rise in prescription costs. The first is that American drug manufacturers set their own prices. Additionally, some state and federal policies have made it more difficult for Americans to switch to less expensive generics. For example, 26 states are required by law to get patient consent before switching to a generic (and less expensive) medication.

While U.S. prescription costs remain high when stacked up against other countries, participating in programs like Community Cares Rx can help consumers maximize savings on their medications – including receiving up to 20 percent off on brands and 70 percent off on generic medication with the Community Cares Rx prescription discount card. Online tools allow program participants to locate a pharmacy and research drug pricing and availability, providing an extra layer of support and convenience in the pharmacy shopping experience.

To learn more about consumer prescription savings programs that deliver real results for pharmacies and the community at large, please visit

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