In a Congressional hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform earlier this week, lawmakers articulated their disgust and moral outrage at the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Heather Bresch for increasing the cost of Epipen from $100 in 2009 to over $600 today. Another target of scorn, mostly by Republicans, was an FDA representative who had the pleasure of sitting next to Ms. Bresch. He was grilled because of the backlog of generic drug applications yet to be approved. If the FDA would just move faster in approving medications competition in the marketplace would work – so the argument goes. Blah, blah, blah. In my Letter to the Editor of the NYT three weeks ago I wrote:
Stories about kids without EpiPen will be the focus of congressional inquiries, replete with the requisite Big Pharma bashing with tirades about drug company greed. It was just a year ago that Congress bashed Turing Pharmaceuticals’ overnight increase of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Congress raged and roared, but what has been accomplished?
And here we go again. What has been done?!
As I watched most of this Congressional hearing and started to not feel so well, I remembered something Hillary Clinton said: “It’s time to move beyond talking about these price hikes and start acting to address them. All Americans deserve full access to the medications they need — without being burdened by excessive, unjustified costs.” As part of Hillary Clinton’s new plan to tackle such situations, she recommends “emergency importation of safe treatments.”
What an amazing idea! Clinton may already know that millions of Americans have taken matters into their own hands by importing safe medications for personal use using verified online pharmacies. For many it was an emergency of high drug prices. Here at PharmacyChecker, in the absence of government action, we’re providing verifications and price comparisons of online pharmacies for those parents who can’t afford Epipen for their kids and other medications for themselves. It’s an emergency.
To affordable medication!
It’s a well-known fact that the pharmaceutical industry has the greatest lobbying prowess of any industry in America. That power enables them to drive law and policy here at home – including the creation and maintenance of laws that make it technically illegal to import lower cost medications from Canada and other countries. Such is the nature of political power in the United States. But things are different in the virtual world.
Big pharma is trying to have that same sway over the Internet in order to stop people from buying lower cost medications online – and they are having successes. But the Internet community and the access to medicines activists can team up to defeat them. In an article I published on Circle ID this week, I identify for the Internet community what it means to protect online access to safe and affordable medication.
Essentially, I propose that rules applied to medicine sales on the Internet should reflect the highest aspirations of human rights law, which hold that access to affordable medications are a human right. Under this perspective, companies, such as registries, registrars, online payment processors, and others, that control “access” to the Internet, should do everything they can to make sure Internet users have the widest possible online access to purchase medication they can afford. Who wouldn’t want that?
Talking to the New York Times!
Last week the New York Times published my Letter to the Editor in response to an article about Mylan’s despicable increase of the life-saving drug Epipen, which saves people from serious allergic reactions. In “An Outcry Over the Price of Epipen,” my Letter’s focus is really on Congress and the need for them to actually do something besides talk. I note that personal drug importation, which is already happening, should not just be tolerated as a technically illegal behavior for which patients are never prosecuted but encouraged using proper guidance so that people can afford the prescriptions they need.
The other Letters provide excellent contributions to the policy debate. Caroline Poplin, who is a doctor, lawyer and healthcare analyst (wow!), criticizes drug companies for their abuse of our patent laws and federal regulations that allow them to maximize profits over patients. She believes that where the market is producing “bad results” government ought to provide remedies.
Sarah fink writes that due to the price of Epipen, her serious allergic reaction forced the plane she was on to land! Here we learn that airlines started cutting back on keeping Epipens on places due to the price. This was my favorite Letter.
Again, check it out here.
Tagged with: EpiPen, letter, mylan, nytimes
Want Lower Cost Medication
One week ago, the CEO and founder of PharmacyChecker.com, Tod Cooperman, and RxRights leader Lee Graczyk, published an op-ed in The Hill’s Congress Blog, entitled: “The candidates agree: Legalize personal imports of prescription drugs.” In a nutshell, as the title makes clear, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both support making it expressly legal to import prescription medication for personal use. This issue is sometimes one of life and death as the media spotlight on Mylan’s drug price spike of Epipen last week makes clear. You might be thinking, “Well, no one gets busted for importing personal prescription orders now so what’s the big deal?” It’s a huge deal.
Currently, about four million Americans import medication for personal use due to cost. But there are more Americans who need to in order to get the medications prescribed to them. If it were technically legal, millions more Americans would buy lower cost medication from Canada and other countries. How many? (more…)
Tagged with: clinton, cooperman, graczyk, RxRights, the hill, trump
The price of the life-saving injection epinephrine, which is prescribed for people with serious allergies, is out of control, surging by 480% since 2009, CBS News reports. But American parents are actually choosing to forgo buying it because of the cost. Enough! For EpiPen Jr, the brand usually prescribed to kids, the lowest price U.S. option found on GoodRx is $614 for a package of two. The lowest price for two injections at a PharmacyChecker.com-approved online pharmacy is just over $200. That means a potential $400 – 66% – savings. Much more than the numbers: for some parents this is the difference between buying or not buying a medication that can save their kid’s life.
By Intropin (Own work), Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons [(CC BY 3.0)]
I’m a parent and this makes me sick and angry. But what will doubly disgust me today is if I read some Pharma-funded bull about unsafe medication in other countries that might scare a parent away from lower cost Epinephrine. This is life and death for kids. Only the truth is acceptable. The EpiPen Jr is marketed by generic drug giant Mylan in the U.S. But lower cost options internationally are either manufactured or licensed by Pfizer, the drug’s innovator, which should take the wind out of the sails of bogus arguments about “foreign drugs.”
Tagged with: Big Pharma, EpiPen, international online pharmacies
We received the following question about Cialis and generic tadalafil.
Question. I am about to begin a one-year treatment of Cialis to help recover from prostate surgery. My question is where can I find information that will give me confidence to use the generic tadalafil. This could result in a huge savings over the life of the treatment.
Thank you for your consideration.
PharmacyChecker Experts Answer…
You can get information right here! (more…)
Tagged with: cialis, tadalafil
I’ve been around the consumer health world for long enough to have a good idea of which groups and individuals really want to find and spread the truth to Americans. Joe and Terry Graedon of the People’s Pharmacy are high on the list. So I was honored to read what they wrote about us (as people, the CEO and me, and as a company) in the latest edition of The Graedon’s Guide to Saving Money On Medicines:
“We have met the founders (Tod Cooperman, MD and Gabriel Levitt, MA). They have impressed us with their commitment to helping U.S. citizens obtain affordable and reliable medications. Even more helpful than the list of pharmacies are the PharmacyChecker.com price comparisons.”
Tagged with: consumerlab, joe graedon, People's Pharmacy
Independent and unbiased health information
Consumer advocate Diane Archer is the founder of JustCare (www.justcareusa.org), a new online resource that makes health advice fun and easy to understand for boomers, older adults and care providers. We’re excited to announce that Diane interviewed our Vice President for Pharmacy Verifications and Information, Kelly Ann Barnes, JD, Rph, about online pharmacy safety and savings. The interview clearly shows why online pharmacies can save you money –– and how PharmacyChecker.com’s verification efforts give consumers information they need to find the safest international online pharmacies.
In Justcareusa.org’s most recent newsletter, Diane writes: “Can online pharmacies offer safe drugs at huge savings? You bet!” As Chair of the Consumer Reports Board of Directors and founder of the Medicare Rights Center, Diane is a nationally recognized consumer advocate and we’re honored and pleased to have her support for the work we do. It speaks volumes about the integrity that she brings to Justcareusa.org in making it a truly objective and independent source of health information for older Americans and the people who care for them.
Tagged with: Consumer Reports, diane archer, justcare, Kelly Ann Barnes
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 [Type in Sildenafil and hit search]. 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…)
Tagged with: ask well, catizone, generic viagra, NABP, sildenafil citrate, Viagra
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…)
Tagged with: Time.com, tuttle