Press Releases

New Report Shows Costs of Medications for Severe Mental Illnesses Significantly Higher in United States, Than in Europe

Statement by NAMI Board of Directors

Jul 15 1998

Washington, D.C. – We are gravely concerned about the results of a study released today by the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group documenting that newer medications used to treat severe mental illnesses cost twice as much in the United States than in European countries.

During the past decade, thousands of American families affected by severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder, have watched hopefully as a new generation of more effective treatments has become available. However, hopes and dreams are dashed when consumers and families learn of a promising new drug only to find out that the medication is not covered by their health insurance company and that they cannot afford to purchase the medication themselves.

A shocking 85 to 90 percent of individuals with severe mental illnesses are unemployed. Poverty is one of the more unfortunate, yet silent, symptoms of mental illness. As a nation, we cannot afford to neglect this vulnerable population that stands to recapture the promise of full, productive lives if given access to medications that science has proven to work.

NAMI believes that individuals with brain disorders must have full and unencumbered access to treatments that have been recognized as effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). This new Public Citizen study, International Comparison of Prices for Antidepressant and Antipsychotic Drugs: Price Gouging of Psychotic and Depressed American Patients, strongly suggests that far too many individuals are being denied effective life-saving treatments and have been priced-out of humane health care.

NAMI also strongly opposes measures that are intended to limit, or actually do limit, the availability and right of individuals with brain disorders to receive treatment with “new generation” medications such as atypical antipsychotics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These treatments are being singled out by NAMI because of ongoing efforts by various individuals and organizations to limit availability by making the treatments exorbitantly expensive.