Three Reasons Why Pharmaceuticals Are So Expensive, and a Few Things You Can Do About It


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Healthcare is expensive. Even if you’re lucky to have good insurance, you will end up spending hundreds of dollars each month on coverage for your family. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

Prescription drugs can be very expensive as well. Even relatively common prescriptions, like Cialis, can cost hundreds of dollars.

Why are prescription drugs so expensive anyway? And is there anything you can do about it?

Here are three reasons why you might pay an arm and a leg for your next prescription, and a few things you can do to lessen the financial burden of those meds.

No Price Regulations

The biggest reason why prescription drugs are so expensive in the United States is because companies don’t have to follow any pricing regulations. Prescription creators and suppliers in other countries do, so they are often more affordable.

That means manufacturers of drugs can price their products however they want. They base wholesale prices on competing brand-name drugs, decide if their drug is better, and price it accordingly. That can cause the prices of some drugs to skyrocket.

Competitions for Some Drugs Is Low

Because drugs are priced based on other drugs on the market, competition is essential to keeping the price of those drugs down. Unfortunately, the competition for some drugs is low, which means prices stay high.

One example is generic drugs. They work the same as brand-name medicines, but they aren’t developed until much later. As a matter of fact, patents last for 20 years, which means name-brand drugs can dominate the market for over a decade before new competition drives prices down.

Development of Some Drugs Is Extremely Expensive

Some drugs are priced so high because they should be. That’s because some drugs simply cost a lot of money to develop, create, and distribute.

Biologics are a good example. While most medications are created by mixing chemicals in a lab, biologics require living cells in order to be produced. That requires more expertise and a specialized environment where those medications can be created safely.

Even after a biologic has been on the market, generics aren’t an option. Instead, biosimilars are the only option, but there are no biosimilars available in the US market. The law has to catch up in order for these products to become available.

How to Save on Prescriptions

Fortunately, there are a few things you can try if you want to reduce drug costs for your family:

  • Search for coupons online. You could save 80 percent or more.
  • Try a different pharmacy. Even ordering online might save you money.
  • Start focusing on preventative medicine to see if you can reduce the prescriptions you take.
  • Look into government programs and subsidies that can help.

Sometimes the cost of prescription drugs makes sense, and sometimes it doesn’t. No matter how much it costs, there’s always something you can do. Try a few of our tips and you might be able to spend tens, hundreds, or even thousands less on prescription costs.

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