US medication costs 300% more than global median

Medication in the U.S. is the most expensive in the world, costing 307% more than the global median, according to a recent study on medication costs around the world.

Behind the U.S., Germany has the second most expensive medications, costing 126% more than the global median, followed by the UAE (122%).

On the other end of the spectrum, Thailand has the lowest-costing medications, about 94% less than the median price, while Kenya’s costs are also around -94%, and Malaysia had costs about 91% below the median.

The study, released by digital healthcare provider Medbelle, was called the Medicine Price Index 2019 and looked at 13 prevalent pharmaceutical compounds that were compared on a dollar-for-dollar basis across 50 countries. The comparisons were conducted regardless of whether medications were covered by a healthcare system or paid directly from the individual’s pocket. Medbelle also recently ranked the best hospital cities in the word in 2019.

The U.S. consistently had the highest costs the world for nearly all the medications––12 out of 13. Only Saudi Arabia had higher costs for one medication­­: Prograf (Tacrolimus), a immunosuppression, transplant rejection prevention medication. For this drug, Saudi Arabia’s cost was 205% higher than the global average.

The U.S. also had significantly higher costs for Lantus (insulin glargine), a drug used to to treat diabetes type I and II. Costs for this drug were 558% higher than the global median. By comparison, the second most expensive country for the same medication, Israel, had costs 193% above the global median. Sky-rocketing insulin prices in the U.S. over the last several years have caused a crisis as individuals needing medication forego the drugs due to unaffordability or have turned to rationing their supplies. Others have even traveled to nearby countries to purchase supplies for themselves and others at a lower price.

“One of the most glaring results of the study is how much higher the cost of medicine is in the United States in comparison to the rest of the world,” Daniel Kolb, co-founder and managing director at Medbelle, said in a statement. “Take Insulin for example; our study shows that Americans pay around five and a half times more than the global median for the life-saving diabetes medication. To put it into perspective, imagine if an everyday item like a gallon of milk cost $3.50 in Canada, but $22.85 across the border in the U.S.”