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It seems you can’t go more than a few days without seeing a story in the news about drugs prices going up. Affordability is a major problem when it comes to drug prices in the US. Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the United States spends $1,112/person on prescription drugs vs $787/person in Canada, the next highest per capita spender.

Affordability has a direct influence on how people take their medication. If drug prices are too high, people tend to cut back or not take them at all. That’s a problem. Not taking medications as prescribed has negative consequences. Chronic conditions can get worse and require more invasive medical treatment. A trip to the ER or a surgery down the road will not be cheap.

Unsurprisingly, high drug prices are directly connected to people not taking their medication as prescribed. In fact, 16% of prescriptions are not filled due to cost. If that doesn’t sound significant, bear in mind that not taking prescription drugs as prescribed costs the US $330 billion/year in additional health care costs; that’s not an insignificant amount of money. It does not do any good if someone cannot afford their prescription drugs, it only increases costs down the road. However, there are solutions available.

The most immediate and effective solution is personal importation of prescription drugs from Canada. It would provide relief for many people who, even with insurance, have a difficult time paying for their prescription medication. It would help improve adherence rates and prevent more serious medical problems down the road. This is something Congress needs to deal with. The financial well-being of millions of sick Americans depends on it.

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