Last updated on: 4/6/2022 | Author: ProCon.org

International Prescription Drug Costs

Source: Wellness GM, “Prescription Cost – Health Care Costs,” flickr.com, Jan. 23, 2015, Creative Commons license

While private insurance and government programs in the United States covered the highest amount of prescription drug costs of ten Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the US also had the highest out-of-pocket costs for patients.

Sweden covered the least amount of prescription drug costs with private insurance and government programs. And patients paid the least out-of-pocket in the United Kingdom.

Prescription drug spending per person (including private insurance, government programs, and out-of-pocket spending) has increased steadily from 2004 to 2019.

However, the United States has maintained the highest costs of 12 OECD countries, increasing from $668.15 in 2004 to $1126.27 in 2019. Sweden and the United Kingdom have maintained the lowest prices per person.

Prescription Drug Spending Per Person:
Insurance or Government Health Program v. Out-of-Pocket Costs,
2004-2019

All costs below are in US dollars.

 Costs Covered by Private
Insurance or Government
Health Program
Patient Out-of-Pocket
Costs
Australia$331.80$102.40
Austria$463.68$56.72
Belgium$381.17$131.43
Canada$590.39$147.41
Germany$769.75$55.42
Japan$589.07$93.63
Sweden$269.74$108.52
Switzerland$523.75$88.73
United Kingdom$272.68$12.16
United States$962.55$163.72

Prescription Drug Spending Per Person, 2004-2019

All costs below are in US dollars.

Year200420052006200720082009
Australia$332.98$330.20$338.84$362.36$380.73$390.24
Austria$358.90$359.05$378.44$404.84$429.62$399.14
Belgium$446.37$439.38$440.73$461.00$440.83$445.64
Canada$460.21$489.79$518.73$546.67$565.22$581.29
France$471.37$486.35$498.91$510.12$518.75$525.35
Germany$405.60$451.92$464.34$503.10$536.00$564.52
Japan$359.93$404.43$420.02$445.60$467.33$525.09
Sweden$298.20$298.30$310.43$326.55$339.57$334.57
United States$668.15$705.87$764.46$794.52$803.45$828.80

*Data from Switzerland and the United Kingdom was not available for 2004-2009.

Year20102011201220132014
Australia$398.55$406.43$403.92$424.91$416.92
Austria$407.25$416.16$429.90$439.70$455.68
Belgium$458.76$466.84$460.70$470.38$471.40
Canada$643.24$638.97$637.04$633.09$633.15
France$535.45$537.84$531.59$538.15$536.96
Germany$587.21$576.85$590.37$610.51$659.45
Japan$550.65$607.01$635.68$700.88$694.05
Sweden$330.11$331.05$329.05$320.01$325.92
Switzerland$439.37$449.50$471.29$488.73$500.17
United Kingdomn/an/an/a$276.66$279.86
United States$819.12$822.73$818.88$831.11$936.35

*Data from the United Kingdom was not available for 2004-2009.

Year20152016201720182019
Australia$425.62$473.92$442.27$434.21$434.21
Austria$470.92$478.40$493.97$506.87$520.40
Belgium$493.27$505.64$493.98$505.64$512.61
Canada$651.91$706.37$714.42$731.16$737.80
France$528.30$540.28$537.39$536.11$533.11
Germany$676.67$724.26$751.39$786.08$825.16
Japan$751.19$674.13$691.77$682.70$682.70
Sweden$341.01$360.09$351.30$376.61$378.26
Switzerland$530.77$572.07$595.51$596.58$612.49
United Kingdom$288.31$293.15$294.10$286.56$284.84
United States$1011.645$1021.52$1037.29$1070.84$1126.27

Source

Nisha Kurani, Dustin Cotliar, and Cynthia Cox, “How Do Prescription Drug Costs in the United States Compare to Other Countries?,” healthsystemtracker.org, Feb. 8, 2022