The cost of prescription drugs is rising fast.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the United States, where drug companies are charging huge sums for the medicines that have become essential to a large portion of the population.
The average price of a single drug for a person with an annual income of $200,000 is $1,700, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, up about $400 from last year and up more than $100 from 2016.
Some of the most expensive drugs in the market, like Advil and Viagra, can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.
And in some states, such as California, prescription drug prices have been rising rapidly.
The drug industry’s ability to charge such high prices for its products is making it difficult for doctors to prescribe and get people on the medication, according a new report by MedPage Today, a nonprofit that provides research and analysis on health care costs.
“Patients have to pay for medications that are so expensive,” said Dr. Jonathan B. Brown, the director of the Health Care Policy Research Institute at Dartmouth College.
“You can’t just go out and get them.”
The rise in drug costs has been especially pronounced in states that have high unemployment, and some of those states are grappling with an opioid epidemic that is ravaging their economies.
For example, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, which has been in recession for years, is nearly twice as high as the national average.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that the number of prescription drug prescriptions has more than doubled over the past decade.
“People in Pennsylvania have more to lose than people in most other states,” said Andrew W. Johnson, the Kaiser Family Health Services director of research.
“The burden of chronic illness, diabetes and hypertension, cancer, and heart disease is very high in Pennsylvania.”
The drug companies that make the most money, including the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, are charging a lot more than they are worth.
The big four U.S. drugmakers, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and McKesson, are among the top five largest drug companies, with revenues of more than a trillion dollars.
Pfizer alone spends more than twice as much on marketing and other expenses than its peers combined.
The companies have also pushed out competitors.
The largest drug maker, Turing Pharmaceuticals, which is owned by billionaire entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, is among the companies that have been trying to reduce prices.
Last year, Turing announced that it was closing several of its remaining pharmacies, which were popular locations in the Midwest, and it cut back on the number it would accept on the street.
But the companies have struggled to compete with smaller and more innovative companies, according the Kaiser report.
The number of generic drugs has also grown rapidly in recent years.
The total market value of all prescription drugs sold last year was $11.8 billion, according an analysis by the U.K. drug research group Oxford University.
That number was more than double the $2.6 billion that Pfizer made in the same period.
By comparison, in the first six months of 2017, Pfizers’ market value had dropped by $10 billion, compared with a drop of $8 billion for McKesson.
“It is a bit of a shame, because we do see a lot of really good ideas from the pharmaceutical companies,” said Daniel P. Riedl, the CEO of the nonprofit, which provides services to the industry.
But even these firms have struggled in the marketplace, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest.
For Pfizer and Johnson, it has been a tough road.
Both have seen profits decline in the past year, but their profits have also been rising.
Johnson & amp; Johnson’s earnings have grown by more than 90% since 2015, while Pfizer’s have risen by more of just 30%.
The pharmaceutical companies have been able to keep prices high by reducing the number and the quality of the drugs they offer.
But they have struggled with finding ways to charge more for the drugs that they can’t.
“If you’re looking for a drug to treat a serious condition, that’s a different story,” said Rieds.
“A lot of these drugs that you buy over the counter are not necessarily the right ones for the conditions you’re treating.”
Some of these medicines are so costly that the companies are not able to offer them at competitive prices.
In some cases, these drugs are made by other companies, which have a better chance of making a drug that works than the companies who make the drugs.
Pfizers and Johnson have also seen a decline in sales from smaller companies that offer drugs to the same people as they do, according Ried.
“There are a lot fewer drugstores,” said Johnson &s; Johnson CEO Richard Johnson.
“In some places, we’ve been able, with the help of our