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U.S. Drug Prices 256 Percent Higher Than in 32 OECD Countries

U.S. prices higher than those in comparison countries for brand-name originator drugs, but lower for unbranded generics

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THURSDAY, Jan. 28, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- In 2018, prices for drugs in the United States were 256 percent higher than those in 32 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) comparison countries, according to a report published online Jan. 28 by the RAND Corporation.

Andrew W. Mulcahy, Ph.D., from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues compared 2018 drug prices in the United States to those in 32 OECD countries. The prices for several subsets of drugs were calculated and compared.

The researchers found that when analyzing data for all prescription drugs available in the United States and comparison countries in 2018, U.S. prices for drugs were 256 percent higher than those in the comparison countries combined. For brand-name originator drugs, U.S. prices were even higher than those in comparison countries (344 percent higher) but were lower than those in comparison countries for unbranded generic drugs (U.S. prices were 84 percent of those in comparison countries). Unbranded generics represented 84 and 35 percent of volume in the United States and other countries, respectively. A consistent pattern of considerably higher overall drug prices was seen in the United States versus comparison countries, although the magnitude was altered with different methodological decisions and assumptions.

"Brand-name drugs are the primary driver of the higher prescription drug prices in the U.S.," Mulcahy said in a statement. "We found consistently high U.S. brand name prices regardless of our methodological decisions."

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