blue pills in plastic and foil packaging

Project

Drug Spending Research Initiative

Overview
Drug Spending Research Initiative
Annual spending on prescription drugs now exceeds $450 billion and is projected to outpace growth in other parts of the U.S. health care sector over the next decade. The Pew Charitable Trusts’ drug spending research initiative examines the underlying drivers of rising prescription drug costs and identifies policy options to better manage spending on these products.

Patients bear the burden of rising pharmaceutical costs in several ways, including higher insurance premiums and increased out-of-pocket costs, which can limit access to needed therapies. Taxpayers are also affected by spending increases in public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Multiple factors drive these growing costs. Historically, the U.S. health care sector has tended to adopt drug therapies when they provide additional clinical benefit compared with existing treatments, independent of the cost of the product. Today, a growing share of therapies entering the market are expensive pharmaceuticals designed to treat complex, chronic conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. These products, known as specialty drugs, make up over 40 percent of drug costs but account for less than 2 percent of all prescriptions.

Brand name drugs that do not yet face generic competition also contribute to rising drug spending, with prices for many drugs increasing year after year including products with multiple therapeutic alternatives.

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Fact Sheet

Policy Options to Manage Drug Spending

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Fact Sheet

Policy Options to Manage Drug Spending

Prescription drug costs in the United States are increasing, with net spending on pharmaceuticals expected to exceed nearly $400 billion by 2020. With patients and taxpayers increasingly shouldering this financial burden, lawmakers have introduced a wide range of policies to address rising pharmaceutical costs.

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Fact Sheet

A Look at Drug Spending in the U.S.

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Fact Sheet

A Look at Drug Spending in the U.S.

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States is on the rise and is projected to outpace growth in other parts of the health care sector in 2018. Limited public data on how much various payers and supply chain intermediaries pay for prescription drugs, as well as a lack of consensus on a single metric for drug expenditures, presents methodological challenges in measuring drug spending.

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Fact Sheet

States Use Various Approaches to Manage Drug Spending

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Fact Sheet

As U.S. prescription drug spending reached $477 billion in 2016, states have crafted policy solutions to help manage the costs of these medications.

Article

What Do You Know About Prescription Drug Costs?

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Article

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe that prescription drug prices are unreasonable, and many would support legislation to lower them. But what determines the cost of prescription drugs in the first place, and how much do Americans really pay for these medications? Think you know? Take our quiz to find out!

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