PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Getting a Paper Prescription from Your Doctor in Florida. PharmacyChecker Answers.

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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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Pharmacychecker.co.uk is Not Affiliated with PharmacyChecker.com!

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We discovered today that someone has maliciously published a website at the web address pharmacychecker.co.uk that mimics the exact look of pharmacychecker.com.  Please be aware that this website is in no way associated with PharmacyChecker.com, LLC and has misappropriated our content.  We are taking the necessary actions to have this website taken down as fast as possible.

UPDATED 5/27/2016: The domain registrar took swift action to take down the rogue website.

For price comparisons and online pharmacy verifications, please make sure you only visit PharmacyChecker.com.

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NABP’s VIPPS and PharmacyChecker Recommended by Board Certified Physician to Find Trustworthy Online Pharmacies

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PharmacyChecker.com has been mentioned and recommended in many articles and news stories over the years, but it’s really gratifying when a medical professional/writer recommends us, even if they recommend the other guy first! Here’s why.

In an article published in VeryWell.com, called “How to Find an Online Pharmacy You Can Trust,” Michael Bihari, MD, writes: “Several organizations, including the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and PharmacyChecker, evaluate online drugstores for the quality of the services they provide. Both organizations reject the majority of Internet pharmacies.” [Emphasis added]. Indeed, according to sources cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are about 35,000 Internet pharmacies. The PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program has 75 and the NABP’s  program has 64 approved pharmacy websites. (more…)

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Generic Rosuvastatin or Brand Name Crestor? Which is cheaper online? Where is it made?

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Brand Name Crestor: Made in Puerto Rico under FDA's regulations.

Brand Name Crestor: Made in Puerto Rico under FDA’s regulations.

Rosuvastatin is now available in U.S. pharmacies as a generic but you can get Crestor 10mg, the brand version, 94% cheaper online. To put some flesh and bones, dollars and sense (pun intended) to this percentile: Ninety pills of generic rosuvastatin cost a whopping $795 at a Walgreens in Brooklyn, NY, but 90 pills of brand name Crestor is $45.65 at a low-cost international online pharmacy, one that is verified by PharmacyChecker.com.

What about using a prescription discount card to buy generic Crestor? Drug price comparison company GoodRx offers a coupon to be used at Rite Aid Pharmacy for a price of $329.52 – still more than seven times the price to get Crestor from an online pharmacy.

Care to know where these drugs are made? It may surprise you. (more…)

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New PharmacyChecker Slideshow Shows How to Take Advantage of Lower Drug Prices Abroad

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Millions of American consumers are buying medication online from pharmacies outside the U.S. at much lower prices than at home but some are not doing it safely.  Since 2003, we at PharmacyChecker.com have been checking the credentials of online pharmacies to help you stay safe, as well as making it easy for you to compare and find the lowest drug prices.  For those who may be unfamiliar with how we do this, we’ve created a slideshow.

The slideshow explains that the main reason many drug prices are lower online is because drugs are often much less expensive outside the United States. It’s that plain and simple. People can save as much as 95% on their medications. And while the U.S. FDA discourages people from getting their medication this way and generally considers it not to be legal, no one has ever been prosecuted for purchasing medication for themselves this way.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of websites selling medication are not verified for safety, don’t require a prescription, and may sell counterfeit, adulterated and expired medication. In contrast, medications ordered from online pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com are dispensed from licensed pharmacies that require valid prescriptions and meet high safety standards.

I hope the slideshow is helpful and encourage you to share it with others.

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Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ Strategy to Maximize Prices and Profits: Nothing Too Novel

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Bag of Money

Executives from Valeant Pharmaceuticals were lambasted about their pernicious business strategy by members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging at a congressional hearing this past Wednesday. I’m glad the hot spotlight continues to shine on the faces of pharmaceutical company executives for runaway drug prices in America, but let’s not go too far differentiating Valeant from many other bigger pharmaceutical companies. While there are important nefarious nuances to Valeant’s practices, their executives were essentially called out for trying to do what all drug company business executives do: make as much money as they possibly can.

Valeant Chief Executive J. Michael Pearson’s contrite response was surreal: “Let me state plainly that it was a mistake to pursue, and in hindsight I regret pursuing, transactions where a central premise was a planned increase in the price of medicines.” I’m sure Mr. Pearson has regrets – even pharma execs feel bad about what they have done – but is the regret really felt for pursuing a business strategy of maximizing drug prices in the U.S. market? As a rational business actor, that’s what his job is as CEO of a publicly-traded company. Isn’t that what all CEO’s of pharmaceutical companies do? Yes, but…

Valeant is viewed as particularly pernicious because its price hikes for critical medications Nitropress, Isuprel, Syprine, and Cupermine, were 310%, 720%, 3,200%, and 6000%, respectively. Even worse these medications are old drugs, not new innovative medications. Those increases make average patented, brand name drug price increases of almost 15% in 2015 look paltry, even when that average exceeded inflation in leaps and bounces, which was under 1%.

(more…)

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New Spanish Edition of PharmacyChecker.com to Help Hispanic Community

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We have a great new Spanish version of our site that you can find here:  http://www.pharmacychecker.com/es/.  We’re really proud of this! Spanish-speaking Americans and immigrants who can’t speak English or just feel more comfortable in Spanish can access our online pharmacy verifications, international and local pharmacy drug price comparisons, and learn how to afford and find savings of 90% on many prescription drugs.

As much as Americans overall are struggling to afford prescription medication, the problem is even worse in the Hispanic community. First of all, the uninsured rate is much higher among Hispanics and therefore they are more likely to pay the full cash drug price at the pharmacy. Sadly, studies show that Hispanics are even more likely to just not take prescribed medication at all because of cost. While of course most Hispanics living in the U.S. speak English – 38% speak mainly Spanish.

And check this out: there are more Spanish speakers living in the U.S. then in Spain! About 53 million overall, with 11 million of them native English-speakers who are bilingual. So the prescription savings information that is now in Spanish on PharmacyChecker.com could be a great boon to tens of millions of Americans and immigrants living in the U.S.

People who don’t take their prescribed medications can get sick, end up in the hospital or die. No one living in the United States should have to go without medication because of cost and our new Spanish site will potentially help fewer people make that decision.

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PharmacyChecker Bolsters Commitment to Patient Safety and Drug Affordability with New Pharmacist Hire

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Kelly Ann Barnes, JD, Rph, Vice President of Pharmacy Verifications and Information

Kelly Ann Barnes, JD, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Verification and Information, PharmacyChecker.com

Last week PharmacyChecker.com announced that we hired Kelly Ann Barnes, JD, RPh, as Vice President for Pharmacy Verification and Information. A licensed U.S. pharmacist for 23 years, before coming to PharmacyChecker.com Kelly was the Director of Pharmacy Quality Assurance for the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy. She joined us to run the PharmacyChecker Verification Program to verify, monitor and enforce, and further develop online pharmacy standards; check pharmacy licenses; inspect pharmacies in various countries that fill orders internationally; and discipline online pharmacies that are not meeting our standards. Kelly will also be helping answer questions from consumers about pharmacy safety, medication use, and of course prescription drug savings, including more focus on saving money at local pharmacies.

I’m really psyched to be working with Kelly and for those in the medical and public health communities that follow PharmacyChecker.com to get to know her over the coming years. Patient safety is foremost on our minds at PharmacyCheceker.com and our commitment to consumers is fortified by hiring an American pharmacist with a proven track record of dedication to pharmacy quality and patient safety.

Just yesterday, I read in CBS News that drug prices are set to skyrocket by 50% over the next few years – and that patients are often directly hit with higher out of pocket costs. Our pharmaceutical drug bill according to IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics was $424 billion last year and is going up to $640 billion by 2020.

The CBS article begins as follows: “Americans are getting sick and tired of the rising cost of their prescription medications. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear likely that consumers will get a break any time soon.” The U.S. is already paying about twice as much on medications compared with other rich and industrialized nations – and it looks like it’s just getting worse. The safest international online pharmacies give consumers the ability to access lower cost medication so they don’t have to skip taking medications, choose between food and medicine, or go broke. With Kelly on board, we’re enhancing our critical efforts to give Americans the best information available about online pharmacy safety and savings and therefore the opportunity to afford medications they need to stay healthy, get better and survive.

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Major Physician’s Organization, ACP: Importing Medication Makes Sense

doctorEarlier this week one of the largest medical organizations in the country, the American College of Physicians, published a position paper on ways to stem the rising cost of prescription medication in the U.S. Some of the recommendations in this article include requiring greater transparency in the cost of developing drugs, taking into account the cost-effectiveness of treatment when evaluating drugs, and allowing government agencies to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs.

The ACP report also recommends looking at legislation that would allow the reimportation of some drugs manufactured in the United States. One study it cites claims a 24% savings when using Canadian pharmacies versus local U.S. chain drugstores. According to our research, the savings can often be far greater, sometimes more than 90% when using a verified international online pharmacy!

PharmacyChecker.com would like to applaud the efforts of this physicians’ group in finding new and better ways to lower prescription costs for consumers.

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Xtandi is Expensive, But Here’s How to Get It for Less

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Photo Credit: "Pills", © 2005 mattza, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Photo Credit: “Pills”, © 2005 mattza, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

There has been a lot of news this week about the outrageously high cost of Xtandi, a drug for advanced prostate cancer. Although developed with funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Xtandi (enzalutamide) is being sold to Americans at about four times the price at which it is sold in other countries.  In January, a petition was sent to have the U.S. government step in and require that Xtandi be priced more fairly for Americans. More recently, several congresspeople and senators, including Bernie Sanders, reiterated this request with their own letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the NIH.

According to the petition, the Japanese company licensed to sell Xtandi, Astellas Pharma Inc., and its U.S. marketing partner, Medivation Inc. charge an average wholesale price of $88.48 per 40 mg capsule in the U.S. However, in Japan the price is just $26.37, in Australia, it is $23.46, and just across the border in Canada the price is only $20.12.

If you only had to take a few capsules of Xtandi for a short time, this might not be such a big deal. But a standard dose of Xtandi is 4 capsules per day for months at a time. That’s 120 pills per month. So the cost of just a one-month supply of 120 pills at the average wholesale price is $10,617. That’s right, over $10,000 per month! If you must get Xtandi and you don’t have insurance which covers it, what are you to do?

First, if you have no insurance or poor insurance and a household income of $100,000 or less, you can apply to get Xtandi for free through Astellas, which may also offer other financial support.

If that doesn’t work for you, another less expensive option (short of travelling to another country) would be to order Xtandi from a verified international online pharmacy, which will send the medication to you from a licensed pharmacy in another country, such as Canada. Currently, several PharmacyChecker.com-verified online pharmacies sell Xtandi for about $41 per 40 mg capsule – about half the cost in the U.S. If you prefer to get your medication from a U.S. pharmacy, many pharmacies offer or accept discount cards which can bring the cost down a little, but only to about $75 per capsule.

It is ridiculous that American taxpayers helped develop this drug but are charged the most to get it. Hopefully, things will change.

 

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