Americans are by far spending the most on pharmaceuticals

Americans spend much more than people in most other countries on prescribed drugs.

That’s one finding in a new report, Health at a Glance 2015, from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The report noted that the total pharmaceutical spend by OECD countries in 2013 was $US800 billion. The US’ bill was the highest, and double the OECD average.

The data only cover retail spending, or medicines that are prescribed to patients or dispensed directly over the counter.

While pharmas are funded by a mix of private and public spending, governments’ share fell by about 3.2% on average between 2009 and 2013. After the financial crisis, several countries looked for ways to limit their total spending.

“Reduction of public pharmaceutical spending in most OECD countries was achieved by a wide range of policy measures, including reforms that have aimed to shift some of the burden of pharmaceutical spending away from the public purse to private payers,” the report said. “These measures included the delisting of products (i.e. excluding them from reimbursement) and the introduction or increase of user charges for retail prescription drugs.”

This chart breaks down spending by country in 2013:

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