Corrupt former hedge funder Martin Shkreli — who hiked the price of an AIDS pill by 5500 percent overnight — is only the latest example of price gouging in the pharmaceutical industry. But US drug prices have been skyrocketing across the country for years. As the following chart illustrates, drug prices in the US are up to 10 times higher than in numerous other developed countries. Data comes from the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) 2013 Comparative Price Report.
Enbrel (for autoimmune disease)
Enbrel is similar to Daraprim — the drug Martin Shkreli’s company prices at $750 per pill — in that doctors prescribe it for HIV/AIDS patients. While the drug is $1,117 per month under the UK’s National Health System (NHS), but the average health plan in the US charges between $1,946 and $4,006 per month for the drug.
According to the IFHP, Celebrex is commonly prescribed for pain around the world. The drug costs just $51 in Canada, but between $139 and $431 per month in the US.
Copaxone (for multiple sclerosis)
Over 400,000 people in the US have multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating condition that affects the body’s central nervous system. Copaxone — one of the drugs used to treat it — costs between $862 and $1,357 per month in Europe. But in the US, Copaxone costs between $3,900 and $4,018 each month, which is roughly the median monthly income in the US.
Cymbalta (for anxiety and depression)
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 18 percent of US adults suffer from anxiety and depression in a given year, and Cymbalta is one of the most common prescriptions for anxiety and depression. The ADAA also estimates that those conditions cost the US approximately $42 billion each year. While the drug only costs $46 per month under an NHS health plan, Cymbalta costs at least 4 times as much in the US — between $161 and $349 on most plans.
Gleevec (for leukemia)
Gleevec, which is used to treat several types of cancers — including leukemia — is astronomically more expensive in the US than in similar nations. The average US health plan charges between $5,482 and $11,007 for the drug, but the same drug is available for $989 per month in New Zealand, and $1,141 in Canada.
Humira (for rheumatoid arthritis)
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.5 million people across the US have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Humira, which the IFHP says is commonly prescribed for RA, costs as little as $881 per month in Switzerland, and as much as $1,950 in Canada. But under US health plans, Humira costs up to $4,089 per month.
Nexium (for acid reflux)
Nexium is prescribed for gastroesophageal diseases (GERDs), which affect nearly60 percent of the US adult population in a given year. 20 to 30 percent of Americans suffer weekly symptoms of GERDs, like acid reflux. While Nexium costs just $42 per month in the UK, the drug costs between $200 and $400 in the US.
While Martin Shkreli certainly deserves his reputation as a greedy, ruthless capitalist, gouging of US drug prices has been and remains a serious problem across the entire US pharmaceutical industry.