Healthcare costs in the United States have exceeded those of other developed countries for years. The rate of growth has recently slowed, but costs continue to rise and are still a significant portion of the gross domestic product. Importantly, the proportion of total costs attributed to pharmaceuticals has risen. Costs and volume of both generic and specialty drugs are now a major driver of overall healthcare expenditures. While the United States is a leading nation in pharmaceutical innovation, both public and private payers have opportunities to improve pharmaceutical management and improve health outcomes.
This fact sheet reviews trends in pharmacy costs, reasons for increasing pharmacy expenditures, impact of drug costs on state budgets and opportunities for improvement, and potential policy implications.