Prescription Drugs are Costing Us Dearly


Photo of Anam Khan
Anam Khan, Health Policy Associate

In the United States, we spend more on prescription drugs than citizens of any other country in the world, and these high prices are preventing people from living their best life. In a recent survey, over half of Missourians were worried about affording their prescriptions, while one-third reported that they have not filled a prescription, cut pills in half, or skipped a dose of medicine in the last year due to the cost. Across the state, too many people are forced to make dire decisions every day at the expense of their health. As drug prices continue to increase, the question we must ask ourselves is: knowing what’s at stake, are we willing to put lives on the line to maintain the status quo?

Fortunately, we are seeing progress both nationally and at the state level. Recently, the federal government passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains provisions to decrease prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Prior to its passing, many states worked to address high drug prices and the impact they have on access to care by adopting a range of policies. Though other states have stepped up, drug pricing legislation is still limited in Missouri. However, much can be learned from legislation combatting out-of-control costs in other parts of the country.

To better understand how we can improve drug prices for Missourians, we’re exploring what’s working in other states. The first brief in our latest series, “Drug Pricing Policy Solutions,” provides background information on drug pricing, as well as an overview of recent policy solutions at the federal and state levels.

Subsequent briefs will dive deeper into some of the issues surrounding the high costs we’re paying. First, we will spotlight a promising insulin cost-sharing policy, which limits the amount of money insured diabetes patients are required to pay for their monthly dose of insulin, making insulin more affordable. Then we’ll more closely examine the prescription drug supply chain and how drug prices are determined. Finally, our last brief covers drug affordability review boards, which study the drivers of high drug costs within the state and recommend policy solutions to help bring costs down. Understanding what’s working with these policies will help us craft effective solutions here in Missouri to ensure everyone can afford the medications they need.  

Read more from our series: