Humira is an injectable medication that treats arthritis — and one of the best-selling drugs in American history. In 2014 alone, millions of Americans spent a combined $6.5 billion on Humira prescriptions.
But we probably didn’t have to. While Americans paid an average price of $2,669 for Humira, the Swiss were able to buy the exact same drug for $822 — and in the United Kingdom, patients got it for $1,362. If the United States paid what the Swiss paid for the arthritis drug, we would have spent $2 billion on Humira in 2014 rather than $6.5 billion.
There’s nothing different about the Humira that we bought in the United States and the drug the Swiss bought – except that in the United States, we’re terrible at negotiating a good deal on pretty much any medical service.
“It’s exactly the same product, but, in terms of the American patient, you’re just paying double or more the price for no more health gain,” says Tom Sackville, chief executive of the International Federation of Health Plans.