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Why drugs cost more in America

Why drugs cost more in America

This is an EpiPen. It’s a device that injects you with adrenaline
if you’re having a possibly deadly allergic reaction. If you have severe allergies, you basically
need it. And if you live in the UK, an EpiPen will
cost you the equivalent of 38 US dollars. But if you live in the US, it’ll cost you
$300. And it’s not just the EpiPen. Let’s look at five of the top selling prescription
drugs in the world. Advair, a brand-name asthma inhaler: more
expensive in the US. Lantus, a type of Insulin: more expensive
in the US. Sovaldi for hepatitis C? Yup. Costs more in the US. Humira for arthritis. Crestor for cholesterol: more expensive in
the US. So here’s an unsurprising chart: Americans spend more on prescription drugs
than anyone else in the world. Why? The first thing you have to understand is
that in the US, drugs get to patients differently than almost everywhere else. Let’s look at that popular hepatitis C drug,
Sovaldi. In 2014 Sovaldi became the first drug to completely
cure hepatitis C. Here’s how it got to market in, for example,
the UK. First a government agency had to decide that
Sovaldi was safe and that it actually worked. Then it was evaluated by a regulatory agency
to see if was worthwhile: Are there too many side effects? Is there already a similar drug? Is there a cheaper option? Sovaldi was deemed worthwhile. Next, they negotiated the price. In the UK, the government buys the stock of
medicine for the country. That means they’re usually able to get a
lower rate, kind of like a bulk discount. Which keeps prescription drugs cheaper for
UK citizens. In almost every developed country besides
the US, this is what the system looks like: Safety evaluation, assessment of whether the
country needs it, price negotiations, sold to patients. Now let’s look at the system in the US. First, the drug is evaluated for safety,
but that’s it. If it’s safe, they can sell it, end of story. Drugs are sold by the drug companies to patients,
usually through insurance. And since the US system lets them sell it
for any price, Gilead, the company that makes Sovaldi, charged Americans more for it. When it first came to market, the entire treatment
cost $84,000 in the US. In the UK? Just about $58,000 US dollars. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s
a full 30% less. So it seems like the UK has the better system
right? Well, it’s complicated. These photos are from protests in the US against
the high price of EpiPens. And these are photos from protests in the
UK, over the lack of access to a cystic fibrosis drug called Orkambi. That’s because when there’s a committee
that determines whether a new drug is worthwhile — sometimes they say no. And when they negotiate the prices, sometimes
they don’t come to an agreement and hit a standoff. That’s what’s happening with Orkambi. Both systems require trade offs. Regulated drug markets tend to make drugs
more affordable, but some drugs are completely unavailable. And while the US has more drugs technically
available, they’re often too expensive to actually afford. Americans without insurance are the most likely
to skip medication because of the cost. Even Americans with insurance, are second. But the commonality between these two systems
— is the drug companies. Developing new drug products isn’t cheap
and they’re for-profit businesses. If Gilead didn’t think that researching
and developing a hepatitis C cure, would make them money in the end, they might not have. And with these regulated markets keeping costs
down, the only place the drug companies can really make their money is, you guessed it, the US. Americans are essentially subsidizing the
cost of drugs for the rest of the world. In other words, a big part of why prescription
drugs are more expensive in the US is because they’re cheaper everywhere else. If you’d like to continue exploring the importance of easier access to medicine and vaccines, then I highly recommend a documentary called “Viruses: Destruction and Creation,” available now on CuriosityStream. CuriosityStream is a subscription service that offers more than 2,400 documentaries and non-fiction titles, from some of the world’s best filmmakers. You can get unlimited access starting at $2.99 a month and because you’re a Vox fan, the first 31 days are free if you sign up at curiositystream.com/vox and use the promo code “VOX”. CuriosityStream doesn’t directly impact our editorial, but their support makes videos like this one possible. So go check them out.

100 thoughts on “Why drugs cost more in America

  1. Hi everyone, we accidentally made this video public around 9pm ET last evening, and had to take it down. We're releasing it now as a new video, sorry for the confusion and to anyone who may have gotten a notification last night for a video that they were unable to watch!

  2. If the reason that the rest of the world has cheaper drugs is because the US does all the R&D then why does such the pharmaceutical industry exist elsewhere? There are drug companies in the UK too.

  3. Funny they don't mention all of the drug treatments that are in a state of little to no availability in the U.K. due to inadequate assessment or, even worse, a decision that they weren't needed enough to merit the cost and so, weren't purchased at all, leaving their people to scrounge around in the blind hope that one of the few private hospitals will have the treatment they need and won't charge them an impossible fee for special ordering an expensive seldom used medication. Not to mention all of the treatments that are drastically cheaper in the U.S. because everyone can get access to any treatment available on the market without having to hope the government will look after them properly.

  4. No one cares about the prices because the money all gets washed in the insurance market. Do you think a pharmacist could legitimately demand $300 per epipen to every customer….to their face? Separate the customer from the payment and watch the prices soar.

  5. Because we pay for other countries getting off cheap due to socialism. In other words, capitalism is passed to the one remaining capitalist medicine country and thank the US for funding research for medical advances – yes, even when it's done in those other countries. They don't pay for it – they're bums – we do.

  6. Drugs cost more in America because with your insurance, you can get quality, affordability, and universality but you cant have all 3.
    Everywhere theres universal healthcare they only have affordability and universality. You cant have quality care if you try to make it cheap and abundant.

  7. Soooo… Get rid of the companies? Hire the scientists directly with government money for better pay? (Like we already do with the NIH)

  8. It is almost a fair and balanced presentation.Except we fought a civil war over healthcare and neither side especially the side who let the insurance companies write the law did anything about prices.Epi pens are expensive because elites are using them as a drug when they expire they turn into adrenoxy or a adrenochrome synthetic.

  9. If the government stopped over regulating the healthcare industry then products would be become cheaper due to easier access to markets.

  10. Shows there is no such thing as free. If one person gets something at no cost, or a reduced cost, then someone else fills in the gap. Simple economics. Think about this the next time a politician promises you something for free.

  11. It's important to note that no patients in the UK pay more than $11 for a month's supply for a prescription drug whatever the NHS negotiates for the price it pays.

  12. yes Americans are subsidizing the cost of drugs for the rest of the world and …the video left out that the the FDA with all it flaws are really the main safety regulation for the world. Most countries even the UK, will rubber stamp safety if already clear by FDA. Also if americans actually start paying cash and instead of relying on insurance…health care cost would go down and with cash payment there will be a demand on transparencies..including distribution channels in america.

  13. Conclusion is hair-brained, but also – "…some drugs completely unavailable in the UK" – NOT TRUE – if the NHS can't agree a price with producers the drug is still available, but the patient must pay for it.

  14. Medicine percentage price is 30% higher in the US, but the US average income is 63 % higher than Canada's. HMMMMMMMMMM…….

  15. Maybe you must think how much really are cost to develope drugs and ask the question, if those drugs will be profitable after pice reduction. But bff that
    journalistic accuracy cost work and to much time for an 4 min long video, about a compelx topic.
    But like in every video
    applies, dont tuoch this: cApiTaLiSm.

  16. You know we have a president trying to work with Congress on this very thing!?!? Right?!?! Oh…CNN didn’t tell you that?? Hmmmm…

  17. Wait wat? I thought all the prescription drugs are way more expensive in US cause you love to abuse them… Wait wat 2nd? I though you had Obama care, but I can see your goverment still lets you live in dark ages.

  18. Wow cool thanks for putting the blame on other countries for high drug prices. The reality is it is a very lucrative industry, they aren't doing charity work selling the drugs to the UK, Australia, Norway etc. for lower negotiated prices. If the US properly regulated the industry and was more willing to subsidise drugs or had a socialised healthcare system, consumers would be able to access the drugs they need.

  19. It's no wonder Americans don't live very long. One tablet of Pyrimethamine costs $750 in the US whilst here in Australia you can get a whole box of 50 tablets of Pyrimethamine for $10.
    It's really sad that their health system is so terrible.

  20. Medication should not be created to make a profit. If governments researched and worked to create a specific medication, we could have solved most of the health related problems in the world and increased life expectancy to over 90 worldwide!

  21. Believe me it has nothing to do with other countries having low prices somehow making them guilty for high American price. That's a bad conclusion by Vox. If the big pharma companies couldn't make a profit selling drugs at a small fraction of the cost in other countries they wouldn't sell them. They are already profiting from selling drugs much cheaper elsewhere you're just getting especially screwed in the USA. Your government, just like Canada does it, needs to dictate to pharmacies the price for medication and you can't let big pharma paid actors make the decision for those prices at the government level.

  22. It may sound harsh.
    But if you don't make enough money to pay for drugs, you don't deserve to live healthy life for long.
    Phrama industry spends Billions of dollars each year for R&D.
    People these days want everything for cheap.

  23. How much drug companies are benefiting from public research? Are they doing research or just market research?

  24. So we are suffering from medication prices because others can easily afford the medication. Wow government and medication companies thanks for limiting do from necessary medication and for making the US’s medication prices through the roof.

  25. 2nd and 3rd stage takes a lot of time and needs to hire people*
    U.S skips stages cause they want money. Or isit other reasons? XD

  26. No it’s because Americans make more therefore they can make them more expensive compare average income and money value in other countries it’s completely different. US money is worth more than all other countries therefore drugs are more expensive

  27. I can't take this video seriously
    I'm sorry but what manufacturing process is THAT expensive and if so how come whole Europe doesn't have those 'expenses'. Health care shouldn't EVER be a luxury it's a primary need and if a country can't even offer that, it's time to move.

  28. I'm sorry Vox, the correct answers is: capitalism. Could've been a lot shorter of a video but then it wouldn't have satisfied the special interests that keep your executives in yachts.

  29. id still rather live in a country where everyone who needs a drug can afford it, not where any drug is available to only those who can afford it.

  30. On behalf of Americans, we will handle with her and are greatly sorry for the trouble she put you through

  31. I pay $48 a month. My copay is $15 tops. I also dont need to wait 2-3 months to get into a Doctors appointment, or 30+ hours at the hospital. Grow a life and pay Insurance so you get better Care. The price I pay every year is LESS THAN HALF of what Socialist Healthcare costs to UK, Germany, and all other countries. Why should I pay more so others get cheap healthcare if I pay more than them in taxes already. That Healthcare that UK is so proud of is Slow, has no Innovation, and no reward for better doctors.
    Think this one out-
    Why would I want a sub par mechanic when I can make sure I get a better one?

  32. Thirty-six percent of all NMEs were developed in the United States. The United Kingdom was the next largest source of NME development (10.4%). Examination of drugs with patents  revealed that (43.7%) of the NMEs had their earliest patent filed by inventors in the United States.

  33. Dont forget in Britain, "patients often wait months, even for essential procedures" and that "some patients wait up to 12 hours in emergency wards before being seen.

  34. By making health care "free" to consumers, the NHS ignores a basic tenet of economics: the lower the price for something, the greater the demand. By eliminating prices entirely, the only way to control costs is by rationing care — either by imposing interminable delays or denying treatments outright — and by underpaying providers.

  35. The last assertion that the rest of the world benefits by Americans paying more for prescription drugs is speculative. If there is evidence for it, Vox needs to substantiate this claim…it can link to authoritative case studies for example. They can make this piece as long as they wish, they cannot claim that they've needed to make the assertion and then end the video moments later in the interests of brevity. The issue of drug pricing both internationally and nationally is a crucial one, Vox hasn't made it's case…. it has made a claim and then bailed, this feels like mischief. Vox is being partisan.

  36. wut… a weird conclusion lol… this is cleary an American issue, you even highlighted the way other governments buy their drugs, considering what's best for the public and negotiating a fair price so that the public can get access to drugs to make life better.
    So… because the American doesn't have that… its suddenly everyone's fault? lol?

  37. There is a major flaw in your reasoning. First, go and see the price of say, knee replacement surgery in the US, and other countries (sadly I don't have access to such information). You are guaranteed to see a difference. Is the US subsidising the price of knee replacement surgery for other countries?

  38. The worst video ever for vox. Journalism at the lowest. Missing major points, incomplete research. And the worst conclusion ever. Point blank blame on rest of the world for things which US politics can't control and rest of the world can.

  39. If a drug isn't accessible in 1 EU country, it can only be because it's useless (there are available alternatives more effective, OR as effective but less expensive…) Agencies can't refuse to comercialize a drug for other reasons. Any protest= not based on medical facts/actual need for a drug that lacks, but based on people who don't know much about medicine so don't know this drug is not useful. Ex: French protest for homeopathy. Anyways, you can still order unavailable drugs in other EU countries: a German prescription is valid for drugs all over the EU (with 28 countries, you'll find 1 who has it).

  40. 1 mistake: US drug prices don't fund research for other countries. France do plenty. How do companies finance it? The state gives them a 10 yrs monopoly: no generic allowed, they're the only 1 allowed to sell the molecule in the whole country during 10yrs.

  41. What do you mean Vox ??!?!?!? I'm truely disagreeing by what you said on the video's end. US and European markets have in general not the same compagnies for meds. The US governement for sure is taxing your medecine and in europe the gouvernement is PROVIDING everything for your health. So this kind of conclusion is actually not true. If you are overpaying for medecine it's not the fault of other civilised european country but it's the fault of your own country that put capitalism in front of everything (even of your lives.)

  42. This might be the first time Trump ends up using a Vox video to bash other nations.
    "Just like with NATO! We are paying for everything! They owe us the drug money! So unfair! Sad!"

  43. The last part of this video is not completely true. the reason why the prices are more expensive in the U.S is because of the Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM's) and what they do is jack up the prices drastically so that them along with the insurance companies can make even more money. The US is not subsidizing the costs of other countries drugs. A vial of insulin take only $6 to manufacture, but in Canada it costs $32 whereas it cost $340 in the US. So even with Canada's insulin cost, the drug makers are still making money.

  44. But, access to a wider variety of drugs can lead to more addiction to opioids for example. Watch the Louis Theroux doc on heroin to see what I mean.

  45. My child is 7 and insulin dependent. It scares me to know she might not be able to afford a medicine that keeps her alive everyday because how inflated the price is. She told me about 4 months after diagnoses at 6 years old if I can help her when she’s older buy medicine . So I know she’s scared too .

  46. Many blank facts here. Many pharmaceutical firms actually sell the products at a much lower price than what the media portrays. Novo Nordisk, for instance, have put huge discounts on their prices, but the middlemen keep this discount to themselves for higher margins instead of passing the discount on to the end user.

  47. They are cheaper because more people buy worldwide than Us alone. You showed it. They get better prices because they buy more. And you forget that a lot of the price, is paid from the government of for example Austria not the private person. That’s why people from Austria pay monthly a small tax with every salary. 🤦‍♂️

  48. Supply demand doesn’t work on pharma. If they can charge more, they sure will do. Getting ripped off while still defending them. Mind blowing

  49. Mind blown! Thank you for this. Totally get it now. The thing is, that once those pharmaceutical companies make there money back, the price should go down. But it doesn't. Insulin drugs are 40 years old yet there still $600 for a 30 day supply… Also, these research and development companies receive billions in subsidies from the government, and spend millions on lobbying

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