For Americans, prescription drugs are a mixed bag. To some, they are a necessary evil: Medications that are needed to treat ailments but are also expensive and sometimes come with side effects.
The good news? A record fifty new drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, which increases supply and may put eventual downward pressure on prices.
The bad news, however, is cost relief appears further away than ever, with brand-name medications prices soaring by 16 percent in 2015. Between 2008 and 2015, the prices for these medications rose a whopping 164 percent, according to Express Scripts, a company which provides prescription benefits.
One reason for the increase is that the price for specialty drugs, those used to treat complex and costly conditions, such as cancer, Hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis, is prohibitively high.
New treatments for Hepatitis C, a liver infection which can cause long-term health problems and even death, have 90 percent cure rates. Unfortunately, it also comes with a huge price tag: 12 weeks of treatment in the U.S. with Sovaldi is $80,000 and with Harvoni is $94,5000. Both drugs are manufactured by Gilead.
"We have these drugs that can wipeout this horrible disease and wipeout an epidemic but the cost is so prohibitive. So we'll never stop the epidemic this way if we can't afford the drugs," Dr. Ken Davis, President and CEO of Mt Sinai Medical, told CNBC's "On the Money" in a recent interview.