PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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The Walgreens UK Pharmacy Connection and Importation

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) says that foreign pharmacies who sell to Americans over the Internet, due to lack of regulation and counterfeit drugs, are dangerous. I have one question: Would that include their own pharmacies in the United Kingdom? After all, Internet pharmacy in the UK is regulated.

The NACDS is not an objective observer on this issue. As I see it, it is in cahoots with Big Pharma in sowing what is blatant misinformation about prescription drug importation and international online pharmacies. See myths and facts. For big U.S. pharmacy chains, lower prices from international pharmacies are a commercial threat.

One of NACDS’s principal members is most commonly referred to as Walgreens, but you should start calling it by the name of its main corporation, Walgreens-Boots Alliance. Why? In the United Kingdom, Boots has been in the pharmaceutical business for 165 years and is that country’s largest distributor of pharmacy products. You can bet that Walgreens-Boots is selling the same medication in the UK at a much lower cost than here in America.

For example, Januvia 100mg (sitagliptin), which treats type 2 diabetes, costs $1508.99 for 90 pills at Walgreens in Brooklyn (I just called). Compare that to $273.60, the price available online from a UK pharmacy, one verified by PharmacyChecker.com. That UK pharmacy is a lifeline of affordable medication to an uninsured American—of which there are still around 28 million—who is prescribed Januvia. (By the way, the “American” Januvia sold in Walgreens is made in the UK). (more…)

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“American” Prescription Drugs Are Usually Imported

American medications are usually imported. Now you know.

Yesterday, PharmacyChecker released the findings of our new research that shows 70% of brand name medications sold in U.S. pharmacies are not made in America. Those same medications can be purchased at 70% less in Canada – and even less in other countries. As I’ve written before, there’s a troubling aspect of the public policy debate about drug importation: in many news stories, both policy-oriented and those dedicated to consumers, it seems as if drug importation is currently illegal, which is simply not true. Our data indicates that when Americans walk into their local Walgreens or CVS to fill a prescription, the pharmacist will mostly likely dispense an imported drug – that’s if the patient can actually afford it: 45 million did not fill their prescription last year because of cost.

Our findings come in the wake of an announcement from the Congressional Budget Office about The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act of 2017 (S.469), which aims to make it expressly legal to import lower-cost medications from Canada. CBO’s report shows that if S.469 becomes law, it would shave almost $7 billion off the deficit by 2027. We believe the savings would be much greater. The CBO report reflected deficit savings, but did not include the savings that individuals would also realize from buying lower cost medications from Canada. (more…)

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Drug Importation is Popular Despite What Big Pharma Says

Voters want importation to be legal.

Voters want importation to be legal.

Shocking. Contrary to the outcry against high drug prices in the United States and the findings of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a recent survey conducted by the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP or “Buy Safe Rx”), the Pharma-funded nonprofit, found that a majority of consumers (59%) oppose legalizing drug importation “after being provided with information specifically pertaining to Canadian online pharmacies.” Information, huh? First, let’s talk about an objective survey on the issue.

In May of this year, the Kaiser Family Foundation issued a more comprehensive, larger survey that found the complete opposite result of ASOP: 72% of respondents support legalizing drug importation from Canada, with Democrats and Republicans agreeing on this issue.

Also, despite the federal prohibitions, nineteen million Americans say they have imported lower cost medication from other countries.

The ASOP “survey” respondents were provided fear-inducing “statistics” surrounding Canadian online pharmacies before asking the survey questions. One such “factoid” gives you a window into the scheming nature of the whole project: (more…)

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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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