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May 10, 1976

Cost of Drugs

Author Affiliations

USN Department of the Navy Naval Hospital Cherry Point, NC

JAMA. 1976;235(19):2081. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260450013011

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To the Editor.—  The excellent article by Dr Hollister (234:942, 1975) contains confusing statistics. It is stated that "more than 1.4 billion prescriptions... are filled each year [at] costs... estimated between $500 million and $1 billion each year...." It is not stated whether these statistics are for the United States or worldwide, or whether the costs are to the pharmacist or to the patient. The assumption is that the statistics are for the United States, and that the costs are the retail costs. A rapid calculation on those assumptions indicates that an average of six to seven prescriptions are filled each year for every citizen, newborn through centenarian, at an average retail cost between 35 and 70 cents each. These results indicate a need to reexamine and clarify the data, and to correct the public record.The problem presented by such data is that they tend to