PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Food or Medicine This Thanksgiving? An Unhealthy Choice

Wishing you affordable medicine and food this Thanksgiving!

When it comes to healthcare, and especially prescription drugs, 62% of Americans are concerned with costs. In the richest country in the world, it saddens me to report that accessing food — and eating more healthy foods — is a big problem, too.

This Thanksgiving it’s important to consider and stand with the millions of Americans who have to decide whether or not they will eat the food they want or take the medicine they need. Over 30% of Americans delay buying food or buy less food so that they can pay for medical and prescription drug expenses. That’s according to an annual survey about food purchasing behavior by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducted earlier this year.

This is not necessarily a hunger issue, although hunger in America is a problem. The IFIC study shows that 50% Americans sometimes buy less healthy food because it’s more affordable. Those less healthy diets lead to negative health outcomes, such as obesity, and more prescription drug spending!

A Commonwealth Fund survey showed 18% of Americans aged 19-64 did not fill a prescription in 2016. In my role with the non-profit organization Prescription Justice, we used that data and other survey data focused on people 65 and older to discover that 45 million Americans did not fill a prescription because of cost in 2016.

This is entirely unacceptable for America. What is worse is that even with a strong economy and unemployment at almost a 50-year low, affording medicine and healthy food is still difficult for so many families.

I hope that the work of PharmacyChecker to provide useful information on affording medicines and advocating for patients helps make it easier for Americans to afford both food and medicine – and to have a very, very Happy Thanksgiving.

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ASOP Symposium on Illegal Online Sales of Medicine – Listening to the FDA Closely

Listening to the FDAThis week, I attended ASOP Foundation’s symposium titled: “Spotlight on Illegal Online Sales of Medicine.” ASOP is short for the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies. That organization, which started with funding from Eli Lilly and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, has often received criticism on these blog pages. Like other Pharma-funded initiatives, its goals are aligned with the pharmaceutical industry and one of its main objectives is lobbying against personal drug importation. It often conflates, through its public education programs, safe international online pharmacies with dangerous rogue websites. However, a good part of its work is helping raise awareness and policy development to stop rogue sellers of counterfeit and substandard medicines from harming patients, and that’s something PharmacyChecker is 100% behind.

Much of ASOP’s work was the brainchild of LegitScript, a founder of ASOP. Truth be told, PharmacyChecker is the expert in safe international online pharmacies and providing consumers with useful guidance about them, but LegitScript/ASOP are the experts in rogue online pharmacies and pushing policies to shut them down. It’s disheartening that they seemingly refuse to separate safe importation from rogue online drug sellers. But I’ll put that aside for now.

I’m going to focus today’s post mostly on presentations by two high-ranking FDA officials. The first was the morning’s keynote speaker, Donald Ashley, JD, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director of Compliance. His focus was the FDA’s efforts to combat illegal opioid sales online and those being imported through international mail facilities. I’ve written about how such actions can be used against safe personal drug imports. While that would be unfortunate, Mr. Ashley was meticulous in communicating that his efforts are strictly focused on opioids: shutting down fentanyl and other opioid-selling sites; detecting and stopping illegal opioid imports; and, through the Office of Criminal Investigations, charging and prosecuting these online opioid drug dealers.

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FDA’s Inaccurate Public Information about CanadaDrugs

The FDA’s recent press release announcing its activities in Operation Pangea XI, an enforcement operation to “crack down on websites selling illegal, potentially dangerous drugs; including opioids,” is conspicuously inaccurate about CanadaDrugs.com, which was forced to close its operations back in July. For a more general analysis of Operation Pangea XI, see my post from last week.

CanadaDrugs.com vs. CanadaDrugs

CanadaDrugs.com was the biggest Canadian online pharmacy for well over a decade. During its 17 years in business, it estimated that people ordered one billion dollars in medicines. During that time, not a single adverse reaction was ever reported by the FDA or any health agency. Their business relied on the fact that Americans are never prosecuted for personal drug importation. The law permits, and Congress has recognized the importance of, the FDA using enforcement discretion to allow personal drug imports so people can afford medicine.

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