THE OLYMPIC CHALLENGES OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES FOR MENTAL HEALTH



Olympians and Covid-19 have drawn fresh attention to the importance of managing mental health, but accessing affordable mental health prescription medications in the U.S. is an Olympic challenge itself. The Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI) has now released a price comparison of top brand-name mental health prescriptions that reveals an average of 80% savings on medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies over the lowest prices from leading U.S. pharmacies including Amazon, CVS, GoodRx, Walgreens, etc.


For the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Team USA has made it a priority to address and protect the mental health of its more than 200 athletes. During the 2020 Summer Olympics, athletes including Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams helped raise awareness and lower social stigmatisms around the importance of managing and seeking help for mental health.


The COVID-19 Pandemic had already led to a surge in the number of people confronting mental health challenges. Last year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine (see box below), which offers support for mental health and substance abuse issues, received 1,027,381 calls. That’s up 23 percent from 2020 — when call volume was up 27 percent over 2019. A new study from BMJ reports that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are at a higher risk of developing mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.


Despite the stigma and misconceptions that still persist around mental health disorders and treatment, mental health problems are among some of the most common health issues for Americans. About one in five Americans (over 47 million people) suffer from some form of mental illness each year.


Approximately 40 million (one in six) Americans take some form of prescription medication for a mental health issue. Like virtually every class of prescription drug sold in the United States, the price of mental health drugs has been rising and the cost is a serious challenge for many of the people who rely on them. Prescription medications are often necessary for the treatment of mental health disorders and depending on the specific type of medication, it can cost an individual anywhere from $15-$1,00 a month, regardless of their insurance coverage. Spending on mental health treatment and services reached $225 billion in 2019, according to an Open Minds Market Intelligence Report. That number is up 52% since 2009.


Price Comparison




Unfortunately, mental health drugs are one of the many types of medications millions of Americans are choosing to forego because often they simply can’t afford them. But that doesn’t have to be the case, because Americans can find the same, safe medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies at prices 35% to 97% lower than those at leading U.S. pharmacies – Amazon, CVS, GoodRx, Walgreens, etc.


The Most Common Mental Health Disorders in the United States


Mental health issues present in varying degrees of severity and affect everyone differently. Some people need more treatment and medication than others to manage their condition and maintain a stable and healthy quality of life. That said, taking prescription medication is often necessary with certain mental illnesses, regardless of how healthy the person might be otherwise.


Some of the most common mental health disorders and illnesses for which people take prescription drugs include:

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Autism spectrum disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Substance abuse

  • Depression and mood disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Phobias

  • Schizophrenia

  • Personality disorders


Some disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder require medication to keep patients stable and to help manage their symptoms, just like physical illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. With other illnesses like depression and anxiety, medication is also often used to help treat patients with severe symptoms. Medication is often paired with talk therapy or is prescribed by a general physician who checks in with the patient every few months to assess anxiety and depression levels and adjust the dosage as necessary.


If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, here is a list of resources from the National Institute for Mental Health. Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room.


If you or someone you know is struggling to afford their medications, learn How to Find a Licensed Canadian Pharmacy.

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