Prescription Drug Costs

Do research expenses justify eye-popping prices?


Recent high-profile Senate hearings have highlighted a phenomenon many Americans know well: the soaring price of prescription drugs, some needed to keep patients alive. New blockbusters routinely cost more than $100,000 for a course of treatment, and similar “me too” drugs for the same conditions later launch at almost identical prices. Drug manufacturers blame the rising cost of research and development, but critics blame excessive profit-seeking and exorbitant marketing budgets. Meanwhile, prices for some common, decades-old generics also are rising as competition in that part of the industry collapses. The price of the antibiotic tetracycline, for example, rose more than 7,500 percent in two years. A majority of Americans say keeping drug prices affordable should be the top national health care priority, and all three ...

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