Rising costs for prescription drugs are straining budgets around the globe.
The 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes the United States, spent $800 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2013, a new report  finds. That’s a full 20 percent of total health spending.
And the United States spends more than most. One telling data point: The median monthly price of cancer treatment for Medicare patients in the country has doubled in the past decade. It now stands at about $10,000 a month — or $120,000 a year.
Here are some other key findings:
- The United States spent twice the OECD average on pharmaceuticals purchased at retailers in 2013. The group average was about $500 per person. In the United States, it was $1,026 per person.
- New, high-cost specialty drugs for an array of diseases are on the way. They’re expected to account for 50 percent or more of pharmaceutical spending growth in the coming years.
- Total US spending on prescription drugs in 2013 amounted to 2 percent of gross domestic product. That’s the third-highest expenditure among OECD countries.
- Generics accounted for 84 percent of all prescriptions in the United States in 2013, a larger percentage than in any other OECD country.
- About 60 percent of the cost of prescription drugs in the country is covered by insurance companies and consumers. The public sector picks up the other 40 percent.
“The challenge for the US is that we combine highest number of prescriptions per person and the highest prices, and these combine to make a powerful financial crisis,” Alan Sager, a professor at the School of Public Health at Boston University.