We’ve recently reported on actions by foreign governments that lowered drug prices in other countries during the recession – a period in which U.S. drug prices increased. Despite much lower drug costs in other wealthy countries, there are voices of discontent regarding drug prices within these countries as well. This week we decided to take a look at drug prices in the United Kingdom.
This month in England, National Health System (NHS) prescription prices will raise 20 pence (approximately $0.33). This is occurring the same week that Scotland announced it will no longer charge for any NHS prescriptions – a move already in effect in Wales and Northern Ireland. About the increases, patient advocate experts are echoing the same concerns we often write about here. Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association says:
At a time when many patients are struggling to make ends meet, another increase on charges they must pay is not acceptable. Some patients put off going to their doctor because they do not want to have to pay for their prescriptions. It is essential all patients feel they can access healthcare when they need it and not be deterred by costs.
When looking at the numbers it’s hard to see how such tiny increases on already low drug prices cause great concern. In stark contrast to drug prices in America today, the current cost per prescription in the United Kingdom is £7.40 – or $12. This price is for any written prescription, regardless of quantity, or if it is brand name or generic. And, medication administered in the hospital, at walk-in clinics, or by a general practitioner, plus prescribed contraceptives, are almost always free of charge.
Health organizations in the UK, such as the Patients Association and British Medical Association, view a 2.7% increase, on meds that already cost so little, as a public health issue. Compare that number with brand name drug price increases, reported by AARP, of 8.3% in the U.S. last year – on products that can cost hundreds or even many thousands of dollars a year – and we’re led to wonder, why is the whole American medical establishment not up in arms here?Tagged with: brand name drugs, British Medical Association, Drug Prices, England, National Health System, NHS, Northern Ireland, Patients Association, public health, recession, Scotland, United Kingdom, United States, Wales