The annual cost of buying and using herbal medicines is set to rise by a third in the next five years, with new research indicating that prices are set to double, with consumers facing a new financial burden.
Research published in the medical journal The Lancet shows that a new class of medicines called “herbal medicines” will increase in price by a whopping $10,500 per year in the decade to 2030, with a median price of $6,000 per year.
The study, which examined prices of herbal medicines sold in the US, UK and Ireland, also found that the average cost of one dose of a generic version of a medicine rose by $1,400 in 2021, to $9,800 per dose.
This was followed by a drop in prices for the next 10 years, but then doubled to $12,400 per dose in 2035.
This is a “large and dramatic” increase in prices, said Professor David Goodall, from the University of York, who led the study.
“It is a massive leap up,” he said.
“The price of the generic version is going to rise dramatically, which means that there is a huge cost to consumers.”
“It’s going to increase the price of medicine for the vast majority of people, including elderly people, those with chronic illnesses and those with low incomes.”
Dr Goodall said that despite the increase in the cost of the medicine, the rise in prices was not due to any new medical technology.
He said the increase was “due to the increased cost of getting the medicine”.
“It was only in the past 10 years that generic drugs have become more affordable, and in the last 10 years there’s been a significant increase in affordability,” he added.
Dr Goodal said there were two main reasons why prices were set to increase: the cost per dose of the medicines, and the cost for the manufacturer.
“One of the main reasons for price increases is that there are increased costs associated with the manufacture of the drugs, and that’s something that’s driven up by increased manufacturing costs,” he explained.
“Secondly, there’s a huge increase in costs for the generic versions of the same medicine, which is a very, very expensive cost to the consumer.”
Dr Goodman said that he expected the cost would rise again.
“We’re likely to see an increase in cost in the years to come,” he predicted.
“So I don’t think that this [price] increase is likely to be permanent.”
However, the report showed that the cost was not solely driven by increased costs of manufacturing.
“It’s also driven by the increased costs involved in the pharmaceutical industry, and so it’s an increased cost to pharmaceutical companies as well,” he continued.
Dr Goodman also said that it would be “highly desirable” for the government to increase subsidies to the pharmaceutical sector, but that the government’s focus should be on making medicines more affordable.
“There should be some kind of government subsidy for the pharmaceutical companies, and there should be an emphasis on making cheaper medicines available,” he concluded.
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