We’ve been in the business of buying drugs for over a decade now, but it’s never been easy to figure out what we need to buy and what we should buy, says the CEO of a company that’s now looking to the future.
“We have to look at what are the best options for our customers and what are those that are going to be affordable and available in the future,” says Paul Maben.
“In the past, the price of a drug was what it was for most people.”
It’s a familiar sentiment: the cost of buying a drug has been rising and the industry is in the grip of a price crisis.
But the problem has gone far beyond the drugs themselves.
It’s the way that we’re all consuming them.
That’s because we’re consuming them at a pace that’s never before been seen.
For most of the last 50 years, people have been eating more, sleeping more, and spending more than ever before, thanks to a global shift away from traditional farming methods and towards increasingly consumer-driven lifestyles.
As a result, the world is on track to reach its most-favoured diet in decades.
But as the food supply gets more expensive, so too does the demand for the foods people buy.
For the first time ever, we’re also living longer, with an expected increase in average life expectancy of nearly 7 years in 2060.
But this is largely because of increased longevity, not increased consumption.
“This is not a problem of people getting more, more, less, or not getting the same things,” says Mabens.
“It’s a problem with the way we consume things.”
And that consumption pattern isn’t just limited to the foods we eat, either.
“A lot of our daily activities are really about consuming a lot of things,” he says.
“If you’re a coffee drinker, a lot is about consuming coffee.
If you’re in a restaurant, a great deal is about eating.
If there’s an entertainment outlet, a good deal is going to food.
There’s just so much going on in our lives and so much stuff that we consume.”
The cost of our food is one of the biggest drivers of the rising cost of drugs.
In fact, a recent report from Oxford University looked at the most popular drugs on the planet and found that they cost about five times more per pill than the cheapest generic versions.
And while drugs can be expensive, there are some drugs that can be less expensive than buying a brand-name drug from the manufacturer.
“Drug costs are usually the cost we pay for what we buy,” says Simon Taylor, chief executive of the Drug Pricing Institute.
“But we don’t always understand that, or the full extent of that.”
Taylor says that drug costs are driven by the supply chain, which involves suppliers and pharmacies, and a range of factors.
“So for example, a manufacturer may charge for a drug because they’re worried that their supply chain might be damaged by competitors, which could then affect their profit margins,” he explains.
“And if they’re running low on inventory, then they might stop making them.”
So how much is too much?
“You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘How much are we willing to pay?'”
It turns out that most people would rather pay £20 or £30 than the same price for the same drug.
The same goes for other brands of prescription drugs, like aspirin, ibuprofen, and other painkillers.
“What we’re seeing is that the cost-per-pill has gone up by about 15 per cent a year,” Taylor says, which means that the price we’re paying for a generic version of a medication has gone down by about the same amount.
This isn’t to say that a generic drug won’t be a good option for a lot more people, but “there’s no such thing as an absolute price for drugs, and that’s why I’ve always advocated for making drugs more affordable and making the drug a less expensive option,” he adds.
“There’s a reason why we’re talking about drugs being more affordable than ever, and I think that’s because there are so many drugs out there that are already available at a much lower cost.”
How do we know what we’re buying?
The first step is to look to the drug’s manufacturer.
If the price is $200 a pill, for example the manufacturer could potentially be able to tell us how much they charge for the drug.
However, these prices often change over time.
For example, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb both recently started selling a new version of an older drug, and it’s unclear if the price will stay the same.
But even if the prices of drugs change, there’s no guarantee that a manufacturer will change them for the better.
That makes it all the more important that drugmakers make sure they’re getting the cheapest drug they can, and not going