How do international drug prices stack up?

If you needed any more statistics showing that drug prices in the U.S. are higher than in the rest of the world, take a look at a new report from Britain's Department of Health. In their 10th "state of the drug-pricing system" address to lawmakers, health officials compared pharma prices in the U.K. with prices elsewhere in Europe, in the U.S., and in Australia from 2004 to 2008. The U.S. came out on top every year.

And by a wide margin. Using the U.K. as a benchmark valued at 100, Belgium's drug prices ran at 122 in 2008, while Spain's came in at 109 and Sweden's at 116. The U.S.? According to this index, 2008 prices were rated at 252, more than 100 points higher than the second-place country, Germany, which ran at 142.

At the same exchange rate--fourth quarter 2008, for you math whizzes--U.S. prices had grown to that 252 from a 176 index value in 2004. Still at the top of the heap, and still way ahead of Germany with its 2004 index value of 106.

The lowest prices were found in Australia. Its 2008 prices were indexed at 94, the only value lower than Britain's. And why did the U.K.'s prices fall so much relative to the rest? Partly because of big price cuts that took place in January and partly because of the value of the pound relative to the euro, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said.

- see the health department's report
- read the PharmaGossip post