The simple answer is that tens of millions of Americans cannot afford prescription drugs here in the United States because they’re too expensive. Meanwhile, drug prices outside the U.S. are much lower – often 80% lower. Americans skipping or not taking prescription drugs is a national emergency largely going ignored in our healthcare debate.
Here are the facts about Americans skipping medication due to drug prices:
1. 25 million Americans did not take prescribed medication in 2009 due to cost, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1997 to 2009, the percentage of Americans not taking their medications due to cost nearly doubled increasing from 4.8 to 8.4%.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf#highlights
2. 48 million Americans ages 19-64 did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund – a 66% increase since 2001.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Surveys/2011/Mar/2010-Biennial-Health-Insurance-Survey.aspx.
3. 3.4 million Medicare enrollees stop taking their medication due to the coverage gap.
Source: Polinski JM, Shrank WH, Huskamp HA, Glynn RJ, Liberman JN, et al. 2011 Changes in Drug Utilization during a Gap in Insurance Coverage: An Examination of the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap. PLoS Medicine.
4. Prescription non-adherence adds $290 billion to America’s healthcare costs.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 76 FR 12969. March 2011. http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/09/2011-5287/campaign-to-improve-poor-medication-adherence-u18.
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