Why prescription drugs cost so much more in America by Hannah Kuchler

Why prescription drugs cost so much more in America

The article relates to chapter 12 on creating and pricing products that satisfy customers, a section on ethics, and social responsibility about pricing a life-saving product (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor, 2014). The chapter addresses the need to create and price products to satisfy the needs of customers. A business should not set high prices to maximize their profits. It relates to chapter 2 on ethics and social responsibility in business, a section on ethical issues (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor, 2014). In this chapter, ethics and social responsibility should be the driver of a business organization.

Description of the article

In the article, Hannah asks the question of why prescription drugs cost so much more in the US. Hannah begins by narrating the case of Quinn Nystrom, who travels to a pharmacy in Canada to stock up on important supplies of insulin. It is apparent that when Quinn crosses the border, she uses a tenth of what she would use in the US to purchase insulin. Due to the high prices of insulin in the US, a good number of Americans who are suffering from diabetes ratios, their use of insulin. The prices of drugs in the US are high, forcing some of the citizens to cross the border and get affordable drugs.

Americans are suffering because of drug pricing in the US. First, a mother narrates how she one child’s insulin among the three kids because they are unable to afford to meet the required dose for the whole kids. Second, another American explains how she spends time in intensive care due to complications from insulin rationing. Due to the challenges brought by high drug pricing in the US, it is becoming an important subject of the 2020 US elections. Most people in the US say that it is one of the most critical issues for the future of the country.

Globally, drug makers have been given time-limited monopolies in the form of patents to motivate innovation. Contrary to the other countries such as the UK and Canada that have price control bodies, the US government has refused to negotiate prices contributing to the high cost of drugs. The three large companies, which make much profit, control 90% of the insulin market. The insulin makers Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk in the US has been growing up with the increase in the prices of insulin. The companies are involved in making life-saving products such as insulin but are unable to make it affordable to many Americans.

However, when these drugmakers are asked why the prices of drugs are high. The response that they give to people is that the funds obtained from high pricing are used to conduct research, which the government agrees with. Due to this reasoning, the US government has done nothing to control or reduce the prices of drugs, even the ones that are lifesaving. In 2017, the US national institutes of health spent $32 billion on research. The recent controversy is in the high pricing of Truvada, an HIV-prevention drug that is a result of research in the country. 

Although all the blames are projected on US drug-making companies, the government has failed to regulate the prices of drugs to make it affordable. Moon, who is a specialist in global health and drug pricing, reports that US companies do not feel to be bounded by the informal social norms in drug pricing, so they go on to raise prices as long as their peers do so in the market. These drug-making companies seem to have a high appetite for more profit in place of social responsibility. However, the main reason leading to this is the failure of the government in regulating drug pricing in the US.

Implications of the article

The article is important in various ways. First, the article addresses the problem that US citizens experience due to the high pricing of drugs. It provides details on people who have diabetes hence forced to ration their insulin dose since they are unable to handle high drug pricing. Through this article, readers get to encounter and experience the pain that many Americans go through, especially in regards to the cost of drugs. For instance, some people are forced to cross the border to Canada to purchase medicine because they are affordable compared to the ones in the US. Thus, other than rationing the drug resulting in an underdose, some Americans move for several miles to get medicine in other countries.

Second, the article explains the role businesses play in any country. For instance, drug makers have monopolized the US market; hence, they control the prices of drugs. When a business raises the price of a product or services of a lifesaving commodity such as insulin, then many people would suffer, especially the ones who are unable to afford it. The article presents the role of a business when they fail to consider the ethical aspect that ought to guide them while in operation. In regards to business ethics, a business organization should not focus more on profit maximization without checking on the welfare of the customers. The article presents the US drug makers as organizations that focus more on profit maximization while trading a life-saving product like medicine.

Third, the article addresses the role of government in controlling business organizations. Countries such as the UK and Canada have price control agencies such as the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board in Canada that is responsible for making sure that the prices of medicine are within the right range for people to afford. The role of the government to business is to make sure that people are not exploited through high pricing, as in the case of drugs in the US. Besides, the article highlights the lack of business ethics in drug makes when they are increasing the price of a lifesaving commodity like insulin and Truvada, among others. The US drugmakers do not have an interest in the impact high drug pricing has on the people, especially those who are unable to afford it, and yet they are sick.

Future implications

Many people will continue to suffer from the high pricing of drugs in the US if the government fails to intervene. The prices of drugs will continue to rise even as many people suffer from the initiative. The link between the US government and drug makers is going to affect the US healthcare system. Many Americans will cross over to neighboring countries such as Canada to purchase drugs. It means that there is a possibility of a decline in the demand for drugs made in the US because of high pricing. Therefore, the US drug makers will lose the market due to changes in the demand for their products.

In the end, people will begin to migrate to neighboring countries to seek affordable healthcare for themselves and their families. As reported in the article, Americans such as Odette are considering a move of their own should the US politicians fail to improve the system by lowering the price of drugs in the country. Odette would consider moving to Canada in case the current system of high drug pricing is not solved. Based on this, the US might experience immigration of people to other neighboring countries such as Canada, which has an affordable healthcare system.  

In addition, as the prices of medicines strike high, it is anticipated that more Americans will file for bankruptcy. Currently, about two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy in the US cite medical issues as the primary contributor to their financial downfall. With the current drug pricing, more families, especially the ones with seek members, are using their income to purchase medicines to sustain their health. In the article, Segos says, tears welling. “I will sacrifice everything I have to keep my child alive. Yet my son, through no fault of his own, his pancreas doesn’t work.” Therefore, it is expected that many will join the current number to file for bankruptcy in case the US government fails to improve the system and control the pricing of drugs.

In the future, there is a possibility of increased mortality rates because of high cases of medical noncompliance. Due to high cost of medicines in the US, many citizens would be unable to comply with medical directives. As reported in the report, there are some cases where a dosage meant for one child is shared among other children because they are unable to afford a complete dose for the three children. Currently, many patients in the US report not filling a prescription for themselves or their families because they are unable to afford the drugs due to cost.


Hannah Kuchler (2019). Why prescription drugs cost so much more in America. Retrieved from; https://www.ft.com/content/e92dbf94-d9a2-11e9-8f9b-77216ebe1f17

Pride, W. M., Hughes, R. J., & Kapoor, J. R. (2014). Foundations of business. Cengage Learning.

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