My Drug Center

How High Drug Prices Affect Patients

Wednesday 20 December 2023
Canadian Pharmacy
6 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Why Are U.S. Drug Prices So High?

II. How High Drug Prices Affect Patients

III. Canadian Pharmacies: An Affordable Alternative

IV. Putting it All Together

In the United States, the daunting reality of high drug prices poses a significant challenge for countless patients. American patients are uniquely burdened by the financial demands of accessing medications in a market that prioritizes profit for pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers.

Understanding the scope and specifics around how high drug prices affect patients is essential for driving change in this arena and for offering affordable alternative options to those who need them.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into why U.S. drug prices are so high in the first place, and how these high drug prices affect patients in ways that have ripple effects on many aspects of their lives. 

Quick Takeaways:

  • U.S. drug prices are more than 200% higher than other developed nations thanks to the lack of price regulation and patent exclusivity rights.
  • One-third of Americans report skipping medications due to their high cost.
  • Irregular medication habits impacted by high drug costs lead to poor physical, emotional, and psychological health outcomes.
  • Canadian pharmacies are a safe and more affordable alternative for prescription drugs.

Why Are U.S. Drug Prices So High?

The soaring prices of drugs, a pressing concern in healthcare, are influenced by multiple factors. In the U.S., the lack of price regulation allows pharmaceutical companies significant leeway in setting prices, often based on what the market can bear rather than the cost of production. This is compounded by the patent system, which grants exclusive rights to sell a new drug, eliminating competition and enabling higher prices. 

Marketing and administrative expenses also contribute significantly to drug costs. Unlike other countries, the U.S. allows direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, which drives up spending. At the same time, the complex U.S. healthcare system involving insurance companies, pharmacy benefits managers, and other middlemen often leads to less transparent and higher final costs for patients.

As a result, U.S. drug prices are now more than 200% higher (on average) than those in other developed nations around the world. [1]


Bar chart shows that U.S. drug prices are more than 200% higher than international counterparts, on average



High drug prices have become a serious issue for many patients who need specialty and/or long-term prescription medications to treat their conditions. In the next section, we’ll explore some of these most pressing challenges.

How High Drug Prices Affect Patients

1.   Financial Burden

High drug prices significantly strain the finances of patients, even those with insurance. Insured individuals often encounter high co-pays and deductibles, especially for medications not fully covered by their plans. 

This can lead to considerable out-of-pocket expenses, particularly for chronic conditions requiring long-term medication. For those without insurance, the situation is more challenging. They must cover the entire cost of medications, often making essential drugs unaffordable.

As a result, patients are forced to make a tough choice between health needs and other critical financial obligations.

2.   Lower Prescription Adherence

The high costs of medications lead to a noticeable drop in prescription adherence, with many patients skipping doses or not filling their prescriptions due to financial strain. This pattern is particularly evident in treatments for chronic conditions, where regular medication is crucial for disease management.

This problem is prevalent in the U.S., where drug prices are higher than anywhere else in the world. An alarming 3 in 10 Americans say they’ve skipped prescribed medications due to their cost. [2]


My Drug Center



When patients forego their medications to save money, they risk their health deteriorating, which can lead to more severe medical issues and increased healthcare costs in the long run.

1.   Increased Health Risks

Skipping prescribed medications due to high costs can escalate health risks, particularly in chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. For diabetics, irregular medication can lead to severe complications, such as kidney damage and cardiovascular issues. In heart disease, non-adherence increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Mental health conditions can also worsen without consistent medication, impacting daily functioning. Additionally, improper use of antibiotics can lead to drug resistance, complicating future treatments.

2.   Psychological and Emotional Impact

The financial strain of high drug prices extends beyond physical health, impacting psychological and emotional well-being. Constant worry over affording medications can lead to chronic stress and anxiety, which in turn may exacerbate the underlying health conditions patients are facing.

This stress is often compounded by the fear of health deterioration due to skipped medications, creating a cycle of anxiety and poor health outcomes.

Moreover, the financial burden can affect quality of life, restricting patients' ability to engage in social activities, pursue hobbies, or even meet basic needs due to the allocation of limited resources to afford expensive medications.

Canadian Pharmacies: An Affordable Alternative

For Americans grappling with high drug prices, Canadian online pharmacies emerge as a solution for patients seeking affordable medication options. Because they aren’t subject to the same regulatory and market environments that drive U.S. drug prices so high, Canadian pharmacies can often offer the very same medications at a much lower cost.

Reputable Canadian pharmacies offer several advantages:

Cost-Effective Pricing

Canadian pharmacies often provide medications at prices up to 55-89% lower than those in the U.S. This means substantial savings for patients, especially for those requiring long-term or specialty medications. [3]


Table comparing drug prices in the U.S. vs. Canada


Quality and Safety

All Canadian pharmacies adhere to strict safety and quality standards from Health Canada, and online Canadian pharmacies are overseen by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, which has a perfect safety record over 30 years in operation. This ensures that patients receive genuine and effective medications and don’t have to compromise on quality to find affordability. [3]

Convenience and Accessibility

Canadian online pharmacies have online platforms that allow patients to conveniently order their medications and have them delivered directly to their homes. This service is particularly beneficial for those who have mobility limitations, live in remote areas, or in areas where retail drug prices are particularly high.

Wide Range of Options

Canadian online pharmacies offer a comprehensive selection of both brand-name drugs and generic drugs (many of which may not be as readily available in the U.S.), providing more choices to patients based on their medical needs and budget constraints.

Putting it All Together

Canadian pharmacies are a viable and increasingly popular option for managing expensive prescription drug costs. For those struggling with the financial impact of high drug prices, exploring these options can provide significant relief and ensure continued access to essential treatments. 

Keep in mind that while ordering Canadian medications is legal, it still requires a prescription from a U.S. healthcare provider, and all drugs ordered must be FDA approved. Additional state-level laws may apply. You should always talk to your healthcare provider before ordering.

Learn more about how you can save up to 80% on your next prescription with My Drug Center.