These are the most expensive drugs in the United States

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Until recently, the gene therapy Zolgensma was the most expensive drug ever approved in the United States

Until recently, the gene therapy Zolgensma was the most expensive drug ever approved in the United States
Image: Shutterstock (Shutterstock)

The American healthcare system is, to put it lightly, a real flash in the pan. Compared to people living in other affluent countries, Americans are overall sicker and die younger. To add insult to injury, Americans also have to pay more for their health care, and much of that extra cost comes from high-priced prescription drugs and other treatments.

In mid-August, President Biden sign the Inflation Relief Act into law, a major piece of legislation that includes several important reforms aimed at reducing high health care costs. However, most of these reforms are likely to have a modest impact and some will not come into effect for several years, such as allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of some drugs from 2026. In the meantime, the prices of newly launched drugs could reach a record this year, if trends continue.

Many treatments are more expensive in the United States than elsewhere, or their price is rising to much higher levels than general inflation would dictate. But there are some particularly expensive drugs, so let’s review some of the worst offenders.

Some of these drugs have the highest list prices, while others are at the top of their particular category, such as those that have gone generic. Another important note is that patients often do not pay for their medications in full, especially if they have private or public insurance or are eligible for discount programs run by drug manufacturers. But coverage plans don’t always foot the bill for recommended treatments, and even when covered, high list prices have historically contributed to high disbursements and limit the resources of public payers like Medicare and Medicaid.

Pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to share list prices for their drugs. Many of the costs quoted here come from various recent analyzes by GoodRx, a company that tracks drug prices and also offers coupons on certain drugs.

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