Study: Countries with Single-Payer Systems Spend Less on Prescription Drugs

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<p>A comparison of prescription drug expenditures in 10 countries with universal health care coverage reveals that differences in prices and drug choices—not the volume of drugs purchased—are the main drivers of spending variation. And those countries with single-payer health systems are the most successful in keeping down overall pharmaceutical costs.  </p><p>The study, published in the <em>Canadian Medical Association Journal</em> and conducted by former Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow Steven G. Morgan, Christine Leopold, and Anita K. Wagner, compared 10 high-income countries’ spending on drugs commonly prescribed by primary care providers, including medications for hypertension, pain, and depression. Single-payer systems, the authors say, have greater purchasing power in price negotiations with manufacturers than multipayer systems do, allowing them to promote lower prices. Moreover, single-payer systems are better at encouraging the use of lower-cost treatments, like generics.</p> Read about the study