High Drug Costs Jeopardize the Health of Americans: It’s Time for Solutions

Tens of millions of Americans – especially seniors and others living on fixed incomes – struggle to afford prescription medications in the U.S. According to an April 2016 report issued by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, total spending on medicines in the U.S. reached $310 billion in 2015 on an estimated net price basis – an increase of 8.5% over the previous year.

The exorbitantly high cost of prescription medications was propelled into the spotlight over the last month, thanks to a significant public outcry against a 450% increase in the cost of the EpiPen®. But the continuous rise of drug prices in the U.S. is nothing new. It is a serious health crisis impacting millions.

In fact, a national survey conducted for the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI)* found that 70% of Americans expressed concern about the high cost of prescription medications for themselves or individuals in their household. Our survey findings also suggested that high drug costs lead to non-adherence, with nearly one in three (30%) respondents reporting they, or someone in their household, did not fill a prescription due to cost. Additionally, one in four (25%) skipped doses, split pills, or took similar actions because of the cost of filling a prescription.

Non-adherence is an unacceptable choice, but a choice millions of Americans are faced with when they cannot afford their prescription medications. Choosing to forgo medications or skip doses is a danger to the health of patients and leads to an estimated $100-$300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs in the U.S. annually (Iuga, A. and McGuire, M. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. 2014).

The recent situation surrounding the price increase of the EpiPen® illustrated the impact of high drug prices on Americans, and further demonstrated that consumers are desperate for relief. The incident also inspired Congress and political leaders to put forth numerous options to address these absurdly high drug prices.

But, we would encourage Congress to look more closely at options that will provide more immediate relief, such as ensuring access to personal-use medications imported from credentialed, verified Canadian pharmacies. This solution has strong public support, with our survey finding 65% of respondents in favor of allowing the safe importation of medications from verified, licensed international pharmacies. Importing prescription medications from safe, verified international pharmacies provides a lifeline to those in need of affordable life-saving and health maintenance medications.

Want to learn more about the issue of personal prescription importation, and how you can make your voice heard by Congress? Click HERE.


* Poll Methodology: Morning Consult, a nonpartisan media and survey technology company, conducted an online poll from March 18-21 among a national sample of 2001 registered voters. Data was weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, region, annual household income, home ownership status and marital status.