Prescription medications are one of the most common forms of health care intervention, with approximately sixty-six percent (66%) of adults in the United States using prescription drugs. Prescription drugs can provide major benefits to an individual as well as the general population’s health; if successful, prescription drugs can lead to longer and higher-quality lives. However, as drug prices rise unnecessarily, nearly a fourth of American patients experience difficulty affording their medications. A majority of these patients are people with lower incomes and those who are nearing Medicare age.
The United States has higher drug prices than all other developed nations, where in 2010 the average post-rebate medication price was fifteen percent (15%) higher in the United States than in Canada, France, and Germany. Domestic drug companies argue that the price is due to the cost of research and development, however it is the lack of market regulation by the United States government that allows these exorbitant prices. In response to the outcry against high drug prices, on September 13, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First. The Order includes a “most favored nations” pricing scheme that includes both Medicare Parts B and D, meaning that Medicare now is able to refuse to pay more for drugs than other developed nations. However, this is not enough. The United States needs to take action at both the state and federal level to ensure that prescription drugs are accessible and affordable to all Americans.