By the Numbers: Real-World Impact of Rising Drug Costs

06.15.17

Prescription drug prices continue to be a serious concern as rising prices outpace overall health care inflation. In 2015 alone, 16.7 percent of all U.S. health care dollars was spent on prescription drugs.

This rise in costs not only places a heavy burden on patients and payors, it ultimately affects U.S. taxpayers. To understand the real-world impact of rising drug costs on Americans, we conducted a survey of 2,195 registered voters in April 2017. 

Voters are Overwhelmingly Concerned

Eighty-eight percent of respondents report being somewhat or very concerned about the high cost of prescription drugs. A higher percentage of women than men report being very concerned about drug prices (60 percent vs. 47 percent, respectively). Voters aged 45-65 are more likely to report concern than their younger counterparts, as are voters who take three or more prescription drugs.

Many Believe Increasing Competition and Accelerating Drug Reviews Can Help

Nearly one in two (47 percent) voters believe that there aren’t enough different prescription drugs available to patients to treat their diseases and conditions. Forty-seven percent also believe that there is not enough competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace. Among voters aged 55-64, that number jumps to 60 percent.

There is, however, majority support for quicker market entry of lower-cost alternatives to brand-name drugs. Fifty-eight percent of respondents are supportive of proposals to speed up FDA approval of biosimilar drugs, which are near-identical copies of original biologic products; this means that there are no clinically significant differences in safety and efficacy. 

CVS Health is Committed to Making Medications More Accessible and Affordable

We employ industry-leading strategies to encourage more competitive pricing and reduce costs for patients and payors. For example:

  • CVS Caremark uses industry expertise to negotiate discounts with manufacturers. These are passed on to plan sponsors and can be used to lower premiums or reduce cost-sharing for consumers.

  • We developed the capability for clients to apply negotiated discounts at the point-of-sale, to reduce a member’s out-of-pocket cost for a prescription when they are at the pharmacy counter.

  • By encouraging the use of lower-cost, clinically equivalent medicines, such as generics and biosimilars, we can help patients achieve the same health outcomes at a more affordable cost.

  • We also lower costs through the Reduced RxTM program, which helps patients with high out-of-pocket costs afford their medications.

For more information on how CVS Health is working to ensure consumers have access to affordable medicines, visit our Rising Drug Prices information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.