Americans Pay More for Drugs

Article excerpt

Americans pay about 60 percent more for brand-name prescription drugs than people in Britain, where government controls help keep prices down, says a new federal study.

The General Accounting Office studied 77 top-selling prescription drugs in both nations. It found that only 11 of those drugs were cheaper in the United States.

The comparison of wholesale prices found that one contraceptive pill, Nordette, cost 17 times more in the United States than in Britain. Valium cost 10 times as much in the United States, and the heart drug Inderal cost nearly nine times as much.

The GAO said the price differentials tended to be sharply smaller for newer drugs.

The British market is heavily regulated, with the government buying most drugs through the National Health Service.

President Bill Clinton has singled out the pharmaceutical industry for criticism for rapidly rising drug prices. His aides hope to keep drug prices in line under his health-care reform plan through the regional health alliances that would bargain with companies on the price of drugs. …

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