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Health Policy
March 2, 2021

Paying for Prescription Drugs in the New Administration

Author Affiliations
  • 1Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law (PORTAL), Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2021;325(9):819-820. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0009

In a national survey in January 2020 involving 1011 participants, the second-ranked domestic priority for members of both the Democratic and Republican parties was lowering the cost of medications, just behind access to affordable health care.1 This was not surprising. In 2019, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 62% of people in the US were taking at least 1 prescription drug, and the total per capita expenditure for prescription drugs in the US in 2018 ($1228) was more than twice the average per capita expenditure for other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries ($562) (Figure).2 The Trump administration often stated that lowering high drug costs was one of its highest policy priorities, but its statements and executive orders were not meaningfully implemented or were unlikely to have a substantial effect. In a survey from 2019 involving 1440 US adults, 24% reported having difficulty affording their medications.3

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