For most of my career, it’s been pretty simple to find good estimates of the average price of a prescription. But for the last several years it has not been. You would think that simply Googling “average prescription price” would provide links to several sites that would provide this information. You would be wrong. The closest estimate I could find online was a study commissioned by Prime Therapeutics that found the average net ingredient costs from Prime compared with its competitors.
Using “mean prescription price” doesn’t work either. This is all the more surprising given that many PBMs – Express Scripts, CVS/Caremark, Catamaran, and Prime Therapeutics – publish annual drug trend reports.
I’m frequently asked about the average prescription price, so I did what a good PhD advisor should do and asked my graduate students to find it. Specifically, I asked three graduate students – Anisha Patel, Batul Electricwala, and Della Varghese – to calculate the average prescription price for all prescriptions and for selected therapeutic categories from the latest data available from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).