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High Drug Prices Make Americans Sicker; Affordable Care Act Will Help But Too Slowly

Americans die and get sicker every day because they can’t afford their medications.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will help provide health insurance for millions of Americans, reducing the cost of their medications. But we’re not there yet! We’ve compiled statistics – see below – on the negative health effects of prescription non-adherence due to cost.  Our country needs greater access to safe and affordable medication now, including through verified international online pharmacies that offer far lower prices on essential medications.

Here are the stats:

  1. 25 million Americans report becoming sicker because they are not taking medication due to its cost. 1
  2. An estimated 150 million prescriptions go unfilled each year due to prescription costs.2,3
  3. 125,000 deaths occur per year among patients with heart disease due to prescription non-adherence. And that’s just for heart disease. The number of deaths per year among all conditions due to cost-related non-adherence is unknown. 4
  4. Americans who skip medication due to cost are almost twice as likely to experience a significant decline in overall health over 2 years of follow up.5

  1. USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/ Harvard School of Public Health Health Care Costs Survey, 2005. 20% of survey respondents report not filling a prescription due to cost; and 54% of those said their condition got worse as a result. Extrapolated to the 2012 population of adults 18 and older, (234,564,071), that is 25 million.
  2. McCarthy R. The Price You Pay for the Drug Not Taken. Business Health 1998. Reports that 20% of prescriptions go unfilled, and 15% of those go unfilled because the drug costs are too high.
  3. IMS National Prescription Audit PLUS reports 4.024 billion prescriptions dispensed in 2011. If 80% of prescriptions written are dispensed, then 5.03 billion prescriptions were written. 15% of 20% of 5.03 billion is around 150 million prescriptions forgone due to cost.
  4. McCarthy, R. The Price You Pay for the Drug Not Taken.Business Health 1998. Quote from Daniel Gerner, chairman at the time of Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council.
  5. Heisler et. al, The Health Effects of Restricting Prescription Medication Use Because of Cost. Medical Care, Volume 42, Number 7, July 2004
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