PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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PhRMA Targets PharmacyChecker on Google Ads

This week I’m down in Washington, DC, talking to policy-makers and activists, setting off alarm bells about Big Pharma’s campaign to not only kill prescription importation legislation but also the ability for Americans to currently buy medications from Canada and elsewhere at all. I have a feeling Big Pharma knows I’m here, which is kind of cool (but also freaks me out because they are very powerful and we are not). Here’s the very quick story.

When I searched “pharmacychecker” in Google I noticed the top advertisement was placed by none other than the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (“Big Pharma”). That ad doesn’t show up in Brooklyn where I live but appears targeted in Google to the DC area. They know that our pricing information, verification work we do for patient safety, and advocacy is compelling to some public policy and healthcare advocates down here, so they pay Google to get their message on top. As if Big Pharma’s 1100 lobbyists aren’t enough!

It’s a badge of honor (but there’s no sleep til Brooklyn).

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Online Access to Imported Medication: A Divine Right

A product of the RightsCon Conference, the completion of the Brussels Principles on Medication Sales over the Internet was announced last month. Those principles invoke international human rights law in defending the online sale and purchase of affordable medications that are imported by consumers. Many countries view access to healthcare and by extension to essential medications as a human right, which is reflected in recent declarations by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

I happen to be a very patriotic American, one who believes in global cooperation, human rights law and the work of the United Nations as being good for our country. I respect that many Americans are turned off by or concerned about globalization, international agreements or the UN and we can disagree on that. But you know what, we don’t need global human rights law to make our case against Big Pharma and its price gouging: we have our Founding Fathers and national notions of liberty to rely on.

In considering the spirit of the July 4th holiday, it’s worth remembering that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence do not guarantee us access to all we want or economic equality. I believe, however, that those rights include the freedom to purchase medication at a price we can afford and any laws that prevent us from doing so violate those rights.

Those sacred rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, according to the Founding Fathers, were not granted to us by government (or international organizations). They are divine rights. Think about that the next time you consider buying lower cost imported medication from Canada.

Happy Fourth of July!

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Minority Communities Needing Better Healthcare Means Highlighting Safe and Affordable Online Pharmacies

Amidst Washington’s vapid attempt at “solving” healthcare, Americans continue dealing with the everyday obstacles that come with prioritizing our families’ health, and all the while, prescription drug costs just keep rising. Minority communities are particularly at risk.

The crisis of rising drug costs expands beyond minority groups, but studies show that Hispanics are more likely to forgo filling a prescription due to cost than the population at large. Worse, as immigrants increasingly fear leaving their homes, undocumented immigrants will be less likely to get needed medications. Wherever you stand on the immigration issue, this trend is unacceptable and must be combatted by educating all people about lower cost drugs available abroad, but some people are getting this wrong…

In a recent op-ed written by Garfield Clunie and Richard Williams and published in Morning Consult, a well-meaning yet dangerous claim is made—that “if [Congress permits the importation of prescription medicines from other countries], the United States government will actually be promoting the use of counterfeit and unsafe medications.”  This is simply false. (more…)

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Recent Arrests in Canada

On June 14 and 15, 2017, several individuals were arrested in Manitoba and British Columbia, Canada (CBC News – Manitoba) pursuant to a U.S. extradition request relating to a 2015 U.S. federal indictment of the parties on charges of illegal wholesale importation of medication into the U.S. including one batch of Avastin alleged to be counterfeit. That indictment pertains to events occurring between 2009-2011. PharmacyChecker.com strongly condemns any manufacturing and trafficking in counterfeit drugs.

Some of the individuals arrested in Manitoba, all of whom have been released on bail and are scheduled to appear in court in Canada on July 12, are also owners and/or executives of CanadaDrugs.com, Ltd. which operated a wholesale business and an online retail website. The indictment focused on the wholesale business (an area which CanadaDrugs has long since exited) and not on its website that sells medication directly to individuals for their own use pursuant to a valid prescription, does not sell Avastin, and remains licensed by the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba and an approved member of the PharmacyChecker Verification Program. We are not aware of any incident involving the sale of counterfeit medicine from CanadaDrugs.com during its 12 years operating as an approved member of our PharmacyChecker Verification Program.

We continue to closely follow this case and will post information about it, as we have done in the past.

Update: It was falsely reported on the LegitScript.com blog on July 6, 2017 that individuals connected with this case “had been extradited to the United States” (as shown below). This is incorrect and no such extraditions have occurred.  False and/or misleading reporting by LegitScript has occurred in the past in what appear to be attempts to foster negative perceptions of the practice of personal drug importation and of our own work in helping to make it safe. LegitScript is a company founded by John Horton, whom we have asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate for possible government ethics violations.

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Legalize it; don’t criticize it – prescription drug importation

In 1976, reggae legend, Peter Tosh, released his song “Legalize It” – calling for the legalization of marijuana. In it, he sings “legalize it, don’t criticize it.” Needless to say, that’s already becoming our reality in the U.S. where, to varying degrees, many states have made pot legal. The federal government has begrudgingly accepted dissension in the ranks of states. Yes, there are rumblings that under Attorney General Jeff Sessions things are going to change. We’ll see.

This week, journalist and pharmaceutical industry analyst, Ed Silverman, from Stat News, published an opinion article called “It’s time to make it legal for Americans to order prescription drugs from abroad.” Unlike the downpour of op-eds against importation sponsored by drug companies, Silverman has no financial interest in this.

To be intellectually honest, Silverman’s call to action is qualified. He seems to be saying to “legalize it,” but he’s not necessarily advising that we not “criticize it.” There are real threats from counterfeit and otherwise substandard drugs that need to be addressed in reforming the law. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, professor of medicine at Harvard, offers his own thoughts in Silverman’s piece: “We should be able to address this safety issue…To not have the conversation and instead say there’s no way to import medicines safely is a cop-out.” (more…)

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Coalition of Non-Profit Groups Show Support for Americans Who Import Medication for Personal Use

Getting some prescription justice

This week, the group Prescription Justice sent a letter to Congress (House and Senate) signed by prominent non-profit activist and policy organizations – and PharmacyChecker.com (we were the only company!) – that clearly recognizes the lifeline of personal drug importation and the role that safe international online pharmacies play. The focus of the letter is support for the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act of 2017, which would help expand lawful options for importing lower cost medication, through retail and wholesale commerce. I wrote about this drug importation legislation a couple of months ago.

Too frequently I read articles in support or against drug importation that both drive me nuts. You’d think that I love the former and hate the latter but that’s not the case. I’m often equally annoyed when the authors either don’t know or care to write about the reality of prescription drug importation where people just go online, order their medication from Canada or another country, send in their valid prescriptions and get it by mail. As the letter iterates:

“Despite the federal restrictions, millions of Americans already import life-saving medications for their own use. While this practice can be done safely through properly credentialed international online pharmacies, it poses a real danger to patient safety because of rogue Internet drug sellers.”

And that’s why PharmacyChecker.com does what we do: verify and identify the safest international online options, educate and warn about rogue pharmacies, and get vocal about it. While the drug companies are obscenely powerful and are spending through the teeth to create anti-importation op-eds and reports, and giving members of Congress lots of money, the truth is a pretty powerful adversary as well. And importing medication from a licensed pharmacy in Canada (and many other countries) is, in the real world of facts, safe. (more…)

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