Why Drug Prices Are Three Times Higher In the U.S. Than U.K.

October 13th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

From breast cancer to Crohn's disease, prices for the world's 20 top-selling drugs are, on average, three times more expensive in the U.S. than they are in the U.K., according to a new analysis of global pharmaceutical spending.

The data, compiled in an analysis by Reuters, represent the prices of drugs that treat a wide ranging list of illnesses and diseases. Those drugs made up approximately 15 percent of pharmaceutical spending worldwide last year, and bring in substantial profits for dominant drug companies such as Merck, Pfizer, and AbbVie.

RELATED: These Drugs Expose the Troubling Culture of Drug Pricing

Here's a graph charting the price differences between the two countries, broken up by drug:

Drug price in the US are 3 times more expensive than in Britain

As Reuters explains, drug companies' profits are much higher in the U.S. thanks to market-competition pricing for pharmaceuticals. In other countries where the government dictates drug costs, prices generally tend to be much lower. Researchers from the University of Liverpool in England found that drug prices in the U.S. were consistently higher not just in other European countries, but also around the world—six times higher than in Brazil, and 16 times higher than averages in countries like India, where drugs are cheapest.

The data come at a time when drug prices are a heated topic in the U.S. following a high-profile price hike by a company called Turing, which came under fire for raising the per-pill cost of a drug that treats AIDS symptoms from $13.50 to $750 overnight. That scandal has led 2016 presidential contenders, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders, to say they want to restructure drug pricing in the U.S.

RELATED: Martin Shkreli Just Challenged Bernie Sanders to a Public Debate