High U.S. drug prices are a financial strain for patients, employers, and state and federal governments. In the following charts, we present the findings from a number of studies on prescription drug costs and spending in the United States with other high-income countries to reveal the main culprit: high U.S. prices for brand-name drugs.
The data for this chartpack come from the following sources: the Commonwealth Fund’s 2020 International Health Policy Survey; 1980–2020 pharmaceutical spending data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); 2020 individual-level administrative claims or registry data compiled by the International Collaborative on Costs, Outcomes, and Needs in Care (ICCONIC); and IQVIA’s MIDAS database for 33 OECD member countries for 2018.
The CDC’s National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) provides monthly provisional data on predicted total drug overdose deaths during the preceding 12 months. The most recent data reflect September 2019 through August 2020. During that period, there were 88,295 predicted deaths, a record high that is almost 19,000 more deaths (27%) than the prior 12-month period.
Using these predicted data in combination with final data from 2019, we estimated monthly overdose deaths from January to August 2020. Our estimates show that total overdose deaths spiked to record levels in March 2020 after the pandemic hit. Monthly deaths grew by about 50 percent between February and May to more than 9,000; they were likely still around 8,000 in August. Prior to 2020, U.S. monthly overdose deaths had never risen above 6,300.