Prescription Drug Costs

Prescription Drug Costs

Experts predict drug costs will double in the next five years, with annual increases of 15 to 20 percent. This is especially critical in Tennessee, since the state is No. 1 in prescription drug use. Tennessee leads the nation with 18 prescriptions per man, woman and child, when the nation's average is 11.

Prescription drugs, especially maintenance drugs, can help improve general health and quality of life. But many people don't realize how much drugs really cost -- and how much drug prices affect health plan costs.

Sticker shock that affects your wallet

Drugs such as Betaseron for multiple sclerosis can cost up to $1,500 a month. Celebrex for arthritis can cost over $100. Enbrel, to treat rheumatoid arthritis, costs over $16,000 a year. Real sticker shock if you think prescriptions only cost about $25 a month or the amount of your copay.

Someone pays that higher price tag. And higher drug costs mean you pay higher rates for your health plan. If your employer covers you at work, chances are you're now contributing more from your paycheck than ever before.

Why are drugs so expensive?

A main reason is advertising. Drug manufacturers spend more than $3 billion a year on TV, radio and print advertising. The direct-to-consumer drug ads are designed to sell expensive brand-name drugs.

Did you know?

  • Only the U.S. and New Zealand allow companies to advertise prescription drugs to consumers.
  • Drug companies spend twice as much on marketing, advertising and administration as they do on research and development, according to a study by the Families USA consumer health organization.

Be a smart consumer

Ads can increase your awareness of treatment options and encourage you to ask your doctor and pharmacist more questions about symptoms and treatments. But they can also create an artificial demand for a drug. If you need treatment, there's a good chance there are equally effective, less expensive drugs for you to take.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Page Modified:May 18, 2012