Cost of generics hundreds of times higher in some countries


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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New data show that some countries are paying hundreds of times more than others for commonly prescribed generic drugs.

The 2019 Medicine Price Index, compiled by the digital health provider Medbelle, collates cost data from 50 countries for the brand and generic forms of 13 common medicines: sildenafil (Viagra), pregabalin (Lyrica), atorvastatin (Lipitor), salbutamol (Ventolin), azithromycin (Zithromax), insulin glargine (Lantus), tacrolimus (Prograf), drospirenone/ethinylestradiol (Yasmin), fluoxetine (Prozac), alprazolam (Xanax), lisinopril (Zestril), tenofovir (Viread) and adalimumab (Humira).

The United Arab Emirates pays over 1,000 per cent more than the median cost of all the generics included. This was followed by Spain and Germany, which pay 895 per cent and 855 per cent higher, respectively. In contrast, the costs in Egypt and Thailand were around 90 per cent below the median. 

There were significant discrepancies in the costs for individual generic drugs. For example, the price per dose of pregabalin (Lyrica) stood at €1.14 in China but just 4 cents in the Netherlands. The cost of a standard dose of sildenafil (Viagra) was €8.45 in Japan and 38 cents in Ireland. The cost of the immunosuppressive tacrolimus (Prograf) was 41 cents per dose in Turkey but jumped to €4.02 in Germany.

Complete data for the countries is available here.