A study by researchers at Boston University's School of Public Health shows that prices of patented brand-name drugs in the United States are an average of 81% higher than the prices charged in other Western countries, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The difference in pricing was only 60% in 2000, according to the researchers. The study examined the price of more than 1,000 brand-name prescription drugs sold in the United States, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, France, and three other European countries. Switzerland was the nation with the closest prices to those in the United States; U.S. consumers pay about 58% more for the same drugs than do Swiss consumers. Canadians pay about 75% less for the same drugs there as U.S. consumers at home do. Prices in Italy were the most disparate--U.S. consumers pay about 118% more for the same drugs as Italian consumers. U.S. prices were about double those seen in France.
Researcher Deborah Socolar says one reason the U.S. prices are so much higher is that "Congress has left prescription drugmakers free to raise their prices here without controls, so we see the consequences over time." A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group, says lower prices on drugs due to price controls in other Western nations limits the amount of profits pharmaceutical companies can devote to new drug research and development.