Skip to Content

New Research Details Prescription Drug Pricing Pain for Patients as Average Hospital Prices Are $8,200 Higher than Specialty Pharmacies Per Single Treatment

Press Release

Published Apr 17, 2023 • by AHIP

New research shows why widening the use of specialty pharmacies is an essential strategy for improving prescription drug affordability for everyone

Washington, D.C. –April 17, 2023 – Everyone should be able to get the medications they need at a cost they can afford. But drug prices are out of control, and hardworking families feel the consequences every day.

Updated research from AHIP, released today, demonstrates this troubling trend of rising costs has also impacted specialty medications, especially those medicines that must be administered by a physician. This research shows that costs per single treatment for drugs administered in a hospital were, on average, $8,200 more than those for the same drug purchased through specialty pharmacies.

“Americans deserve affordable medications, and we all need to work together to deliver for them – that means giving patients more options for buying the medications they need. This research shows just how timely and important that is,” said Matt Eyles, President and CEO of AHIP. “Health insurance providers are developing innovative solutions every day to make prescription drugs more accessible and affordable, and specialty pharmacies have a big role to play. They represent a safe alternative to hospital and physician purchased drugs that can boost access and affordability for all Americans.”

Specialty pharmacies provide medications for people living with serious health conditions requiring complex therapies, offering just-in-time delivery to bring patients the drugs they need, when they need them (often referred to as “white bagging” and “brown bagging”). Specialty pharmacies lower a patient’s health care costs by preventing hospitals and physicians from charging exorbitant fees and mark ups to buy and store specialty medicines themselves. When patients are administered a lower priced drug, they save money from their own pockets.

Full findings from AHIP’s research from 2019-2021 include:

  • Costs per single treatment for drugs administered in hospitals were an average of $8,200 more than those for the same drug purchased through specialty pharmacies.
  • Drugs administered in physician offices were an average of $1,500 higher than for the same drugs purchased through specialty pharmacies.
  • Hospitals, on average, charged 118% more for the same drugs, compared to specialty pharmacies.
  • Physician offices charged 23% higher prices than specialty pharmacies for the same drugs, on average.

Specialty pharmacies improve health care affordability. It’s time to support competition among providers for these medications and services through the use of specialty pharmacies and to reject policies that take away choices and reduce costs for patients.

The Facts about Specialty Pharmacy Use

About AHIP

AHIP is the national association whose members provide health care coverage, services, and solutions to hundreds of millions of Americans every day. We are committed to market-based solutions and public-private partnerships that make health care better and coverage more affordable and accessible for everyone. Visit to learn how working together, we are Guiding Greater Health.