Friday, April 14, 2006

Drug Prices

I'm fascinated by the difference between the prices of prescription drugs in the U.S. And in Europe, and my recent trip to Italy was a great chance for an update. Most prescription drugs are dispensed in Italy either without prescription, or with authorization of the pharmacist.

So here's the scoop. The difference in the price of brand name prescription drugs seems to average about a factor of six, with some having a difference of about a factor of ten. Meaning that the same medication that, for example (name of drug witheld...), costs $70 in the U.S., costs $13 in Italy. The same medication that costs $120 in the U.S., costs $11 in Italy. The same medication that costs $140 in the U.S. Costs $25 in Italy... I found only one exception, a hot new anti-cancer medication that costs $150 in the U.S., and $180 in Italy...

So, let's exclude that exception for the moment and focus on the rest. How, in a global economy, can a price differential of X6 or X10 between Europe and the U.S. Be sustained?

Well, to a certain extent it cannot, because I can go to Italy and buy my medications there. The only issue is the cost of the plane ticket.

What about purchasing on the web from a European supplier? Well, that used to be doable up to a couple of years ago, recently it's become much more difficult.

So what exactly is behind it? Well, that's a much larger subject than I can tackle on this blog, I plan to address it more broadly, but let's just say that it's a combination of (primarily) PhrMa - the drug manufacturer's lobbying group - the American medical guilds, and the arcane intricacies of drug licensing in the U.S. But in the meantime, if you happen to be in Italy, or in most other European countries, you can check this out for yourself. And stock up if you like...


Post a Comment

<< Home