Americans pay almost double what the rest of the world combined pays for top medications

“Millions of American families ration medicine to help pay the bills.”


The Public Citizen, a non-profit, progressive consumer rights advocacy group and think tank, recently reported Americans are paying almost double for the top 20 bestselling medications than the rest of the world combined. 

The report, United We Spend, goes on to say the U.S. spends more per capita for prescription drugs than any other industrialized nation.

As reported by Common Dreams, U.S. sales of the top 20 medications totaled $101.1 billion in 2020, while sales of the same drugs totaled $57 billion in the rest of the world.

“Empowering Medicare to push back against inflated drug prices is the responsible and commonsense way to stand up to the industry’s greed—which, certain members of Congress should be reminded, lawmakers in both parties have been promising to do for years,” says Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and co-author of the report. 

“Millions of American families ration medicine to help pay the bills. Until now, the U.S. government has not even asserted power to help by negotiating more reasonable prices. Drug corporations clearly are taking advantage of that weakness, and abusing their monopoly privileges—and everyone in the U.S. is paying for it,” says Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program.

The U.S. does not buy or use more drugs than the rest of the world—research puts consumption on par with other wealthy countries—it simply pays more for what it does use. This is in line with its spending on healthcare overall, which is far greater than in similar countries and achieves far less. A key factor in the sky-high prices is down to the government’s inability, or refusal, to negotiate lower prices, reports Forbes

Some lawmakers have fought tirelessly to try to reduce prescription drug prices in the U.S. But still many are in the pockets of Big Pharma. 


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