IMPORTANCE The increasing cost of prescription drugs in the United States has become a source of concern for patients, prescribers, payers, and policy makers.
OBJECTIVES To review the origins and effects of high drug prices in the US market and to consider policy options that could contain the cost of prescription drugs.
EVIDENCE We reviewed the peer-reviewed medical and health policy literature from January 2005 to July 2016 for articles addressing the sources of drug prices in the United States, the justifications and consequences of high prices, and possible solutions.
FINDINGS Per capita prescription drug spending in the United States exceeds that in all other countries, largely driven by brand-name drug prices that have been increasing in recent years at rates far beyond the consumer price index.
In 2013, per capita spending on prescription drugs was $858 compared with an average of $400 for 19 other industrialized nations. In the United States, prescription medications now comprise an estimated 17% of overall personal health care services.