Reform Pharmaceutical Pricing

Expensive pills

Target: John J. Castellani, President and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Goal: Provide affordable medications for patients across the nation.

Because pharmaceutical companies have set notoriously high prices on their pills, the United States spends far more on prescription drugs than other developed countries. Even though the average American takes fewer prescription medications than people elsewhere in the world, drugs still make up ten percent of the nation’s annual health bill, which totals 2.7 trillion dollars.  For many who need medication, the cost is astronomical, requiring excellent insurance, plenty of disposable income, and time to search for discounts. Prices for medication do not have to be this high.

In the United States, $250 will buy a patient 2 Qvar inhalers, whereas the same amount of money in Greece will buy 37 inhalers. That same amount of money will buy 19 Augmentin pills in the U.S. and 445 in Belgium. This is because unlike other countries, where the government sets national wholesale prices for each drug, the United States leaves pricing up to the market. Competition among the pharmaceutical companies, including generic drug makers, determine how much money their drugs will cost.

Other controllable factors weigh into the cost of medication in the United States. Old drugs that have been affordable for years go through the process of repatenting, with the sole purpose being to drive up the price. Companies also choose to sell drugs as a prescription rather than over the counter, which ensures they can sell them at a higher price. Some even pay generic drug manufacturers to not introduce competitors, a practice that teeters on the edge of breaching antitrust laws.

For those who need medication for chronic conditions such as asthma, prescription drugs are essential to quality of life. However, the cost is unnecessarily high, burdening the average American while benefiting the profit-driven pharmaceutical companies. Demand reform of pharmaceutical pricing.


Dear Mr. Castellani,

The member companies under the umbrella of your organization engage in behaviors that gravely affect the very patients they claim to work for. Because of the astronomical prices set by pharmaceutical companies, consumers must have excellent insurance coverage and adequate disposable income simply to afford their medications. Some patients have chronic conditions such as asthma, and need to purchase multiple medications per month to enjoy a satisfactory quality of life. However, many cannot afford all of the medication necessary, so they either stake less than prescribed, or they go without, landing them in the hospital.

It does not need to be this way. We have seen the prices of prescription drugs elsewhere in the world. We know it does not cost as much to make the drugs as we pay for them, even with a healthy profit margin. Encourage PhRMA companies to set fair prices that consumers can afford. Take ownership for the practices that are driving up costs, and begin working to help patients, not to make billions of dollars. We demand reform.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Chris Potter via Flickr

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