“Drugs: Are Americans Being Ripped Off ?”
Americans have the dubious honor of paying the highest costs for drugs on the planet, even more so than other rich countries such as Germany, Japan, and Canada. Drugs can be life saving and crucial in the prevention and treatment of illness but anything can be pushed over the top. Over half of the American population is on prescription medications and in 2013, over 4 billion pills were dispensed to a population of 330 million people, with many patients taking multiple pills (polypharmacy) and with some taking dozens on a daily basis. Differences in drug prices can be substantial, especially among the newer and very costly agents that have recently come on the market. Two years ago, oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) made a deliberate and measured decision to exclude a drug because of its exorbitant cost, and went public about it. The drug (aflibercept, Zaltrap, Sanofi) was no more effective than older drugs but was twice as expensive.