Prescription Drugs:

Companies Typically Charge More in the United States Than in the United Kingdom

HEHS-94-29: Published: Jan 12, 1994. Publicly Released: Feb 2, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which drug manufacturers charge more for the same products in the United States than abroad, focusing on: (1) manufacturers' factory prices; (2) brand-name drug prices; and (3) the market segment in which retail pharmacies generally do not receive manufacturers' discounts.

GAO found that: (1) drug manufacturers typically charge more for prescription drugs in the United States than in the United Kingdom; (2) price differentials tend to be dramatically smaller for newer medicines and for single-source drugs; (3) differences between U.S. and U.K. drug prices are primarily due to the regulatory constraints that manufacturers face in the United Kingdom; (4) pharmaceutical information is more widely available in the United Kingdom than in the United States; and (5) although government regulation has restrained drug prices in the United Kingdom, the implications for similar intervention in the U.S. pharmaceutical market are unclear.

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