it’s not because of what you may think. In the United States spending on prescription drugs is about 10.3% of total health care spending. Lower than the OECD country average and lower than Japan, Canada, Germany and Belgium.
The per capita out of pocket spending on prescription drugs in the US is only $21 higher than the OECD average and lower than Switzerland and Canada. (all data from Health System Tracker)
Yes, prescription drugs are expensive (some of them). Yes, the US pays more for many drugs than other countries, but that does not explain the chart below.
What does, however, is the fact Americans take a lot of drugs compared with people in other countries. And, the use of drugs has been growing over the years. For a variety of reasons both good and bad nearly 60% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, many take several.
So, are we abusing drugs, are we victims of advertising or of our own lifestyles? Are we trapped by an uncoordinated, inefficient system where multiple physicians provide multiple prescriptions to a patient who does not communicate effectively?
It’s easy to find a scapegoat in the sky high price of many drugs and the organizations that set them, but cutting those prices may not address our real problem and imagine if lower prices actually encourages greater use.