PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Is Generic Viagra Legitimate? The New York Times Say’s…

buying generic Viagra online

Depends where you buy it online…

This question was posed in the New York Times Ask Well blog this week. We were pleased that PharmacyChecker.com was recommended as an information source for finding credentialed international online pharmacies that sell Pfizer’s brand name Viagra. On the other hand, we were frustrated that the Times answered this question wrongly by writing “In short, no.” Fact: Lawfully manufactured and distributed generic Viagra – sildenafil citrate – is available in Canada and at Canadian pharmacies. Just go to Health Canada’s drug database and you’ll find it – right here. And it has been sold as a generic in Indian pharmacies, lawfully, for a very long time.

So the answer to the blog post’s question is – in fact – yes.

Prices? The price of a Pfizer branded Viagra 100mg pill in many U.S. pharmacies is $50, compared to $7-10 from many safe international online pharmacies. The generic pill sells for as little as a buck.   (more…)

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Drug Prices Are Insane and Seemingly Unstoppable

The problem is just getting worse.

The problem is just getting worse.

I’m pleading guilty to plagiarism here…well, kind of. I lifted this blog post’s title from the lead section in an article by Brad Tuttle last week in Time.com – called, “Prescription Drug Prices in America Are Rising Like No Other Industry.” The gist of the article is one we’re familiar with: drug price inflation is a major aberration in the U.S. economy, increasing about 10% a year for the past three years. Compare that to general inflation, which is historically, exceedingly low – averaging about 1% for the past three years.

You can read the aforementioned article for yourself — but what really jumped out at me was the discovery of another piece by Mr. Tuttle called “21 Incredibly Disturbing Facts about High Drug Prices” from this past June. Here are the top three fact (of the 21) that resonate loudest with me and why they do.  (more…)

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Big Pharma picks up your copay tab. Is that cool?  

A gift from Pharma?I don’t often side with global pharmaceutical companies but on the issue of their copay drug coupon handouts I do…but only kind of. Not to be mistaken with prescription discount cards, which are used by people who pay out-of-pocket and not with their insurance (if they have it), drug companies are increasingly giving away copay coupons to cover the copayments of expensive drugs – often for specialty medications but for traditional prescription drug as well. These coupons cover some of even all of your copayment. That’s really cool! Thanks Big Pharma.

The problem is that your health insurance company is still footing the bill for the drug and while you may be OK with that, UnitedHealth, Aetna, etc.  — Big Health — are not. Now don’t get too happy because higher drug costs for health insurance companies often lead to higher deductibles and premiums that you will have to pay. And there’s worse. (more…)

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Happy 4th of July 2016 From PharmacyChecker.com!

Last year I published a blog post to celebrate the 4th of July in the spirit of freedom from high drug prices and unjust laws that protect multinational pharmaceutical companies. Shortly after that post, the fight between consumers and entrenched special pharmaceutical industry interests took on new meaning with the volume cranking up to 11. One Chicago Tribune headline said it best: “How 2015 became the year of prescription drug price outrage.” That outrage has continued unabated in 2016 and moving into the November election is likely to crescendo.

While I talk a lot about them – safe international online pharmacies are not the long term answer to the problem of high drug prices – but they do empower Americans in their battle against Big Pharma and, much more importantly, make it possible for them to afford medication they need to exercise their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And on that note, I republish my post from last year below…

Online Pharmacies and Freedom: Happy 4th of July from PharmacyChecker!

U.S. flag and pillBack in 1776, America’s Founding Fathers agreed that a government should not deprive its people of their natural freedoms. So when I think about the tyranny of high drug prices in America this July 4th – which causes millions of Americans to go without needed medication and face financial hardship – I’m also thinking about the Declaration of Independence and the freedoms it promises. And I write with humility that safe online pharmacies offering lower drug prices from other countries have a lot to do with helping Americans achieve “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Life: There are people living in the United States who, according to their testimonials, would lose their lives if not for safe international online pharmacies.

Liberty: The Internet is a tool of freedom for millions when it comes to access to affordable medication. The Internet helps educate people that medication prices are much lower in other countries and provides access to legally operating and safe pharmacies from which they can obtain affordable medication.

Pursuit of Happiness: In this case I am thinking about the happiness of saving money and the fact that Thomas Jefferson was talking, at least in part, about financial health and security when he penned this phrase. But saving money is not just about getting a “better deal” although there is nothing wrong with that. It’s about the grandparent who pursues happiness by saving a $1000 a year buying medication from a foreign pharmacy so that he or she can visit their grandchildren this July 4th.

For these reasons, at PharmacyChecker.com, we believe it is an honor to help Americans who are going online for lower cost medication by identifying the safest online pharmacy options at which people can buy medication they can afford. By doing so, we empower them to both protect themselves from rogue online pharmacies and their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Happy 4th of July!

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The truth about online access to safe and affordable medication

Bring it on!

Bring it on!

As noted on the top of this web page, this blog is about “Helping Americans Get the Truth About Prescription Savings”. From time to time, I’m afforded the honor of spreading the truth farther and wider than our blog, including this week in Morning Consult, an online journal covering the intersection of politics, policy and business. In “Americans Deserve the Truth about Lower Cost Prescriptions,” I articulate the simple reality that millions of Americans import lower cost and safe medication and that they have done so for 15 years when buying from the safest international online pharmacies, despite federal restrictions.

Against consumers is the multinational pharmaceutical industry, which, in protection of its profits, spends a good deal of time and money scaring Americans into not buying lower cost medication  on the grounds that they are likely to get a fake or substandard drug. To them the Internet presents mostly dangers when it comes to buying affordable medication. They refer to safe international online pharmacies as “rogue” or “fake” – and that scares people.

Remember, we’re dealing with a crisis of high drug prices in America and there are safe international online pharmacies that provide immediate relief while we work out longer term solutions. The flip side of the Big Pharma narrative about “rogue online pharmacies” is plain to see as the truth for those who take the time to look. The role of the Internet in making it possible for a consumer to obtain an essential medication in another country that is not affordable locally should have us all talking about how to encourage online access to safe and affordable medication.

Truth.

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Operation Pangea and Online Pharmacies: Throwing out the Baby with the Bathwater?

"I represent safe and affordable imported medication. This bathwater is dangerous rogue pharmacy sites!"

“I represent safe and affordable imported medication. This bathwater is dangerous rogue pharmacy websites!”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a press release about Operation Pangea, an annual global initiative led by INTERPOL “to combat the unlawful sale and distribution of illegal and potentially counterfeit medical products on the internet.” This is the ninth annual operation, and each year I wonder if FDA will throw the baby out with the bathwater.

 

There are, according to FDA’s own sources, tens of thousands of drug-selling websites. Most of them are considered “rogue” by PharmacyChecker.com. Where the FDA and Operation Pangea successfully shut down sites (whether lawful or not) that intentionally sell counterfeit medications, or even online pharmacies that sell real medications but without the qualifications or pharmacy safety protocols to do so, we applaud their actions. Shutting down dangerous online pharmacies – throwing out the bathwater – is noble.

In February of last year we submitted a policy paper that I wrote to congressional committees with jurisdiction over laws and regulations that affect access to safe and affordable medications. Entitled “Online Pharmacies, Persona Drug Importation, and Public Health,” I argued that safe international online pharmacies are a boon to public health because they enable consumers to afford prescribed medications, and that overzealous enforcement of drug importation regulation could negatively affect access to those sites. Actions taken by FDA and through Operation Pangea would seem to cross the line from public health to Big Pharma profit protection where they curtail access to the safest international online pharmacies, which is throwing out the baby.

(more…)

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Your prescription is required to order from a PharmacyChecker-approved online pharmacy

PharmacyChecker.com-Approved Online Pharmacies will require your valid prescription.

Rx Required!!

Question. Do online pharmacies in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program require a prescription?

PharmacyChecker Answers: Absolutely. Under our program’s rule, all PharmacyChecker.com-approved online pharmacies must require a prescription for you to obtain medication that requires a prescription. This is just one of the many important standards which define our program.

Why is this so important? First, online pharmacies which don’t require a prescription are more likely to sell you a counterfeit or poor quality medication. Second, you should be under medical supervision when taking prescribed medication.

So, if you order from a PharmacyChecker-approved online pharmacy you’ll learn firsthand that you’d better have a script in hand!

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Prescription Justice and Section 708 Update

I’m pleased to announce that the Prescription Justice Action Group (PJAG) has a new and improved website; and for those of you that follow PharmacyChecker.com’s advocacy efforts on these blog pages I believe you’ll like it! The site just looks a lot better, it’s easier to use and therefore more helpful.

As a reminder, last November we announced the formation of PJAG, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending Americans if the FDA refuses and threatens to destroy their personal drug imports and advocating for policies to lower domestic drug prices. The motivation to start PJAG was the passage of legislation back in 2012 giving new, potentially harmful regulatory powers to the FDA. Often referred to as Section 708, the law allows FDA to more easily destroy personally imported medication. The new rules went into effect on October 15th of 2015.

FDA may be seizing medications in larger numbers ordered from rogue online pharmacies but to date they have not greatly increased refusals of medication ordered internationally from PharmacyChecker-approved online pharmacies. I write “greatly” because I’ve heard that there have been some increases. Historically, over 99% of prescription drug imports ordered from international online pharmacies that require a prescription have reached the patient.

PJAG’s website provides guidance to show consumers how to submit a letter to the FDA to defend a medication they have ordered from an international pharmacy, if they get a letter that it’s being held by the FDA and subject to destruction. It’s not easy and it takes patience but following PJAGs guidance could be helpful: at a maximum to get your medication back in the unlikely event it’s taken, and at minimum to send a message to the FDA that they took medication from you and now you can’t afford it. PJAG blogs that it’s working to create a web form portal to make the submission process easier. We’ll report back when that’s up and running.

We also support the grassroots consumer advocacy efforts of RxRights and hope that you sign-on to its ongoing, multiple campaigns to contact your elected leaders about the high cost of medication.

 

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Can you buy lower cost medication from foreign pharmacies in your neighborhood?

Vero Beach Strip Mall

Vero Beach Strip Mall by Sylvar, Creative Commons

Yes, but it depends where you live. For example, if you live in Florida, according to Kaiser Health News, apparently it’s very easy to find a local “storefront” where you can buy lower cost medication from Canada and other countries. Of course, consumers do not need to go to a pharmacy storefront to benefit from lower drug prices in other countries. They can compare drug prices among safe international online pharmacies in our Verification Program.

As with most personal drug importation, the FDA has said importing meds from foreign pharmacies is technically illegal under most circumstances. In practice, the FDA does not prosecute individuals for importing small quantities of prescription drugs for personal use. According to Kaiser Health News, the pharmacy storefronts in Florida have not faced regulatory actions. A professor of health policy at University of South Florida, Sean Greggory, stated that shutting down storefronts “would be seen as restricting access to affordable drugs and supporting big bad [drug] corporations.”

PharmacyChecker.com checks the credentials of international online pharmacies to verify that they are licensed and operating properly but to date we have not checked storefront pharmacy operations. However, over the years, we’ve heard about storefronts throughout the U.S. that refer orders to pharmacies in other countries and, if those pharmacies are licensed and operating safety, we think it’s great!

The need for the storefronts is greatest among older Americans. Their Part D Medicare drug plans are not always adequate to cover prescription costs and seniors continue to face drug affordability problems. The storefronts, like international online pharmacies, offer much lower prices on brand name drugs than local U.S. pharmacies.

When online pharmacies, particularly the Canadian options, were first available over 15 years ago, many seniors did not know how to use the Internet or felt uncomfortable doing so. In 2000, only 14% of seniors used the Internet, compared to 58% in 2015 [Source]. But that still leaves a lot of seniors who might have trouble ordering medication online by themselves. For them, pharmacy storefronts can be a lifeline. As the Kaiser article points out, while “Many consumers do their own online buying from foreign pharmacies…storefront operators target an older generation interested in buying medicines abroad but who lack computer savvy and are insecure about buying online by themselves.”

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Getting a Paper Prescription from Your Doctor in Florida. PharmacyChecker Answers.

Question: My doctor in Florida insists that all prescriptions be sent electronically to the pharmacy. I prefer to have a paper prescription in order to shop around for the best price. What can I do?

Answer: While most states have provisions allowing electronic prescribing, and some have extremely strict requirements mandating their use, all have exceptions that allow consumer choice. PharmacyChecker.com CEO Tod Cooperman, MD, wrote about this issue in an earlier blog post as it relates to electronic prescribing in the State of New York. But what about Florida?

Here’s the good news! Florida law stateselectronic prescribing shall not interfere with a patient’s freedom to choose a pharmacy.”

The main reason that states have adopted rules to encourage electronic prescribing is to prevent the abuse of prescription narcotics, which is a national epidemic.

(more…)

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