Why Does a Drug Prescribed in the U.S. Cost 10X More Than in France?

February 13, 2024

Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, is a frequent and outspoken critic of the pharmaceutical industry.

CNN reports that Sanders’ latest salvo came in a report comparing the price of three commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. to prices in other countries. Don’t be shocked to learn that U.S. consumers pay more. A lot more.

For example, the annual list price of Eliquis, a blood thinner that reduces the risk of stroke, is $7,100 in the U.S. But in Japan, the same medication costs $940. The annual list price was $900 in Canada, $770 in Germany and $760 in the United Kingdom. The French got the biggest break at $650.

The report points out that Stelara, used to treat arthritis, has an annual list price of $79,000 in the U.S., $30,000 in Germany, $20,000 in Canada, $16,00 in the UK and $14,000 in Japan. What about France? Again, the lowest at $12,000.

What about the third? That was Keytruda, prescribed to people with cancer. The annual list prices: $191,000 in the U.S.; $115,000 in the UK; $112,000 in Canada; $91,000 in France; $89,000 in Germany. This time Japan came out lowest at $4,000.

Naturally, the drugmakers did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Consumers in other nations typically pay less for medications because their governments often determine the costs. Here in the U.S., Medicare has started its first-ever negotiations with drugmakers over the cost of 10 expenses medications. Stay tuned.

Do you have an Rx cost experience? Please use this link to share your story (and your selfie) with Voices for Affordable Health.