PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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PharmacyChecker Online Pharmacy Authentication Role Recognized in OECD/EU Report on Counterfeit Drugs

When I read fancy-looking international reports that address the problem of counterfeit drugs, too seldom is our work recognized in verifying international online pharmacies in a manner that saves the lives of consumers looking online for affordable medicine. To some extent, that’s because the global pharmaceutical industry is often a major data source for these reports. But a joint effort between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)” recently recognized PharmacyChecker in a report on counterfeit drugs called “Illicit Trade: Trade in Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products.” Under the sub-section “Online Pharmacy Authentication,” PharmacyChecker is mentioned as a free resource for consumers to identify trustworthy online pharmacies:

“PharmacyChecker is a free-to-consumer online service which produces reports on the credentials, prices and customer feedback of online pharmacies, focusing mainly on the United States and Canada. It is designed to help users identify reputable and trustworthy businesses. The site publishes a list containing the web addresses and business names of what it considers to be disreputable, dishonest and/or illegal online medicine trade sites.”

It should be clarified that, although our consumer advocacy and writing are focused on Americans, PharmacyChecker online pharmacy accreditation and pricing are there for global consumption.

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EpiPen Malfunctions and High Prices are an American-made Problem

This week, the FDA issued an alert that the EpiPen, a brand name epinephrine injection that should help someone having a serious allergic reaction, might not work properly. The problems include delayed injection, failure to inject, and difficulty removing the product from its container to commence an injection. If this drug fails to work on a patient who is in anaphylactic shock, the result can be death. In fact, such product failures were reported to have killed seven people in 2017 and led to 35 hospitalizations.

Warnings about bad drugs or medical products are often associated with imports, such as from India or China – or buying drugs online. But here we have a homegrown problem, which we actually export.

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Former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb says ‘Canadians have safe drugs’

Americans who have been relying on trips to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs may not be able to do so for about a month, but really who knows how long. As reported in the Washington Post yesterday, to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada agreed to close the border yesterday to all but “essential” travel.

SPECIAL NOTE: On this blog I’m sometimes a bit snarky in poking fun at drug companies, drug company-funded groups and the FDA when it comes to their public education information about drug importation and buying drugs online. But let’s face it: we need drug companies and the FDA more than ever right now, and I wish them Godspeed in efforts to find and approve treatments to fight COVID-19. Within that spirit of coming together, I’ll continue to raise the same issues found on this blog.

When the border re-opens, the FDA should immediately, expressly permit personal drug imports from Canada. I’m not talking about “Canadian online pharmacies” or buying on the Internet. I do believe people should be able to do that as well, but my focus for this post is on border crossing prescription drug imports by individuals from Canada.  

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Comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled “Importation of Prescription Drugs, FDA-2019-N-5711, 84 Fed. Reg. 70796”

Below is a copy of Gabriel Levitt’s comments on the FDA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled “Importation of Prescription Drugs” that were submitted Monday, March 9th, 2020.

Comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled “Importation of Prescription Drugs, FDA-2019-N-5711, 84 Fed. Reg. 70796

Docket No. FDA-2019-N-5711

Date: March 9, 2020

Submitter: Gabriel Levitt, Co-founder and President, PharmacyChecker; Founder and President, Prescription Justice

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). Founded in 2002, and launching its website in 2003, PharmacyChecker provides consumers with online pharmacy verification and comparative drug price information to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families on how to afford prescription drugs.

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Politifact Says Drug Prices are Four Times Higher in the U.S. Than Other Countries: Mostly True.

The window for public comments on the FDA’s notice on proposed rulemaking about drug importation under Section 804 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act is closing on Monday March 9th – and I’m not done writing! So, this post will be short and sweet but highly relevant. Of course, lower drug prices in foreign countries are on my mind today – as they often are. And they were also on the minds of the truth-sleuth masters over at Politifact yesterday. The title gives away the answer already so go take a look at how Politifact checks out U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore’s (D-WI) statement: “Prescription drug companies are charging Americans prices that are on average 4x higher than what’s charged in other countries.” Or read on for the super quick explanation.

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What is a “legitimate” drug or online pharmacy?

Yesterday, I was asked by Ed Silverman of STAT NEWS’ Pharmalot for my thoughts about a report by the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services (OIG). The report is an audit of companies in the drug supply chain to test compliance with regulations called for by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act of 2013 (DSCSA). In short, as reported in STAT, OIG found that seven out of 44 drugs audited could not be traced back to the manufacturer in the manner required under the DSCSA. Add to that, the physical locations of 21 drugs could not be determined. Since most drugs subject to DSCSA are made overseas and imported, Mr. Silverman wanted to know if this audit impacted drug importation proposals and plans in the works to lower drug prices. The answer is probably no. The report appears to be a worthwhile effort to test compliance with DSCSA. However, use of the word “legitimate” is found in the DSCSA, and that word is often misused by opponents of drug importation and international online pharmacies – and that got me thinking. I’m sick of that word.

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