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Skipping Doses and Delaying Treatment: Will Drug Prices Continue to Rise in 2021?

by Skye Sherman  -  July 26th, 2021

Photo Credit: by Volodymyr Hryshchenko, Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: by Volodymyr Hryshchenko, Unsplash.com

If you’re someone who relies on medication in your everyday life, then you’re likely well aware of one unfortunate fact of life: rising drug prices. As the cost of prescription medications increase, the group of people that is most heavily affected is those who rely on these drugs.

If this applies to you and if you’re like 39% of Americans, you may even find yourself occasionally skipping or rationing medications (even if this is not recommended by your doctor) in order to keep your costs down.

Not only is this dangerous and contrary to the medical advice of a trained professional, it could do serious harm to your health and body. You should only be taking medications in the way your medical professional has prescribed or advised. In most cases, prescription drugs are not just about living a life with lower stress; they are lifesaving.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and some turn to skipping doses and delaying treatment in response to rising drug prices. Will drug prices continue to rise in 2021? This may be the trend, but there are efforts in place to combat it. In this article, we’ll take a look at rising drug prices in 2021 and what the future may hold.

The effect of rising drug prices: skipping doses, delaying treatment, forgoing meds

Did you know that drug price hikes happen every year in January and July? This is because it’s during these months that drug manufacturers revisit their prices and set new prices.

In July 2021, more than 65 drugs increased in price (and that’s in addition to the 800-plus drugs that saw a price jump in January!). Typically, the drugs that see a price increase are specialty drugs rather than common drugs that many people take, but this is not always the case, and it still has a major effect on those who require the specialty drugs. Rising drug prices are nothing new, but they are causing new problems.

The article by Becker’s Healthcare mentioned above has more shocking facts than simply the fact that 39% of Americans skip or ration their medications. The information they reference is from a survey of 1,029 Americans who take a prescription medication for an ongoing condition.

Here are other findings from the survey:

● “1 in 3 Americans saw their out-of-pocket costs for prescription medication increase in 2020.

● 37% of respondents reported paying for their regular prescription was difficult or very difficult.

● 21% of respondents reported taking on debt or declaring bankruptcy because of prescription costs in 2020.

● 21% of respondents reported struggling to pay for basic needs, such as groceries and housing, as a result of their prescription drug costs.”

These statistics are alarming. If drug prices continue to rise and make medications unaffordable, we could be facing a major health crisis that puts patients’ lives at risk. Some patients choose to skip doses, ration medications, or even delay treatment due to rising drug prices. This is to the detriment of their own health and wellness.

But if people cannot afford the drugs they need, there may not be good solutions in place. Let’s consider whether this trend is set to continue.

The latest on drug pricing: Which drug prices are rising?

Not all drug prices are on the rise. Some prices are stable or even lower than they have been in years past. For example, many erectile dysfunction drugs have become cheaper in recent years because the patent expired on the brand name medication, which paved the way for generics.

However, there are a few popular drug categories where patients are struggling. These include antidepressants as well as drugs to treat diabetes, cancers, lupus, and more. Many of the drugs affect seniors. Such patients depend on these lifesaving drugs to get by in their everyday lives. If a diabetes or lupus or cancer drug becomes unaffordable, it may mean the difference between life and death. Lowering the price of drugs is vital for the health and safety of the general public.

One of the drug categories that has seen a major spike is antidepressant drugs. This is bad news because there was also a major increase in demand and prescriptions when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2021. Obviously, the pandemic caused a lot of mental health issues which can end up in increased antidepressant prescriptions from doctors. This perfect storm is costing patients a lot of money and causing stress.

A study by the DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences explains, “The social restrictions amid coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have posed a serious threat to mental health and have implications in the use of medications for mental health including antidepressants (ADs). This study investigated the trends in prescriptions and costs of various ADs in England during COVID-19 pandemic…. The rising prescription costs for ADs during COVID-19 pandemic is a potential cause of concern, in particular the increasing use in adolescents and younger adults needs attention, who are at a higher risk of life-threatening adverse drug reactions.”

The study also mentions that the total number of antidepressant prescription drugs dispensed during 2020 increased by four million over what was dispensed in 2019. An article in Health Europa adds that one of the co-authors of the study “acknowledged that an increase in the number of prescriptions was expected because of the pandemic, but said that the sharp rise in antidepressant prescription costs was a potential cause for concern and highlighted the urgent need for mental health interventions in the country and strategies to optimise the use of antidepressants.”

As drug prices rise in important categories, we need to find other solutions that bring the price down for patients, such as the changes that Biden has proposed. It may also be a good idea to order from an online Canadian pharmacy and replace your brand name drugs with generics. Visit our About Us page to learn more Canadian Pharmacy King and how we can help you conveniently get the drugs you need delivered to your doorstep.

How to track changes in drug pricing

Watching the fluctuating price of drugs yourself can prove to be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. It’s good to be aware of what’s happening in the pharmaceutical market. However, this may be changing in your state.

As the National Law Review explains, there have been state and federal developments in prescription drug pricing transparency: “In the last five years, 18 states have passed legislation requiring prescription drug manufacturers to disclose certain price information for their drugs … These disclosures are intended to discourage high or increased prescription drug prices and, in turn, save federal and state health care dollars and lower prescription drug prices for consumers.” The more aware consumers can be, the better the system will work.

If you want to keep an eye on drug prices yourself, 46brooklyn Research has a tool that will allow you to analyze changes in brand name drug list prices. The platform explains that the Brand Drug List Price Change Box Score “provides the general public with changes in drugmaker Wholesale Acquisition Costs (WACs)” even though they make it clear that their tool does not provide complete transparency into the U.S. drug pricing system.

That’s because, as they explain, “In this dashboard, we are not permitted to directly publish WAC prices. We can only publish changes. Also, this dashboard only shows changes in brand drug list prices. It doesn’t capture the variable, completely hidden, and ever-growing rebates shuffling around in the dark. But it’s a start. It is the first time we can all get on the same page about what is really happening with brand drug list prices.”

If you want to keep an eye on changing drug prices and the cost of your particular medication, this tool may be the way to go.

Will drug prices continue to rise in 2021? How to lower the price of drugs

When it comes to the possibility of drug prices continuing to rise in 2021, there may be some good news on the horizon thanks to the current administration.

The Washington Post reports, “President Biden is calling on federal health officials to intensify efforts to drive down prescription drug prices as part of an executive order he signed Friday to spur federal agencies to promote economic competition.” This executive order was signed in early July 2021.

How will he do this, exactly? The article continues,

“The order directs his administration to work with states to devise plans to import medicines safely from Canada, where they are sold at lower prices—an idea long endorsed by many Democrats and embraced by former president Donald Trump over the objections of the pharmaceutical industry. The president’s directive also urges the Federal Trade Commission to promote the availability of generic drugs by banning pharmaceutical manufacturers from paying their generic counterparts to delay entry of lower-price versions of medications into the market.”

This is in line with one of the platforms that made up Biden’s campaign for president. He promised to make an effort to increase the supply of generic drugs to Americans, and it sounds like that is what he is attempting to do. He also plans to promote competition between hospitals and health insurers in order to make care more affordable.

If this new executive order works to bring down drug prices, it will be cause for celebration for patients all across America. However, keep in mind that it may take a while to see change. As the Winnipeg Sun explains, “While the drafting and implementation of new rules and regulations may take months and will be largely handled by individual departments and agencies, the White House has made clear it expects that the executive order could lead to significant changes that entail a major impact on several industries.”

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Disclaimer:

The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.
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