In any given month, about half of all Americans—and 90 percent of seniors—take a prescription drug. These medications help millions of patients fight illnesses and recover from injuries; they also shorten the duration of common illnesses, alleviate pain, and treat life-threatening illnesses. Simply put, prescription drugs save lives and can prevent costlier, more invasive treatments.
Yet not all drugs offer the same value, and too often, patients and insurers pay exorbitant prices for their medications, even for products that are no more effective than cheaper options. In 2014, more than half a million Americans took at least $50,000 worth of prescription drugs each. Americans pay out of pocket for a much greater share of prescription drug costs than hospital costs. Not surprisingly, almost three-quarters of the public thinks that drug costs are too high. And while drug prices keep going up, a significant percentage of new prescription drugs are designed to treat the same conditions and offer little clinical advantage over existing drugs.
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