At the beginning of this year, Prescription Justice, the non-profit organization I founded, released an analysis showing that about 45 million Americans did not fill a prescription in 2016 due to cost. We derived that figure by looking at 2016 survey data by the Commonwealth Fund, a research organization dedicated to healthcare policy. Its international survey showed that 18% of the adult population in the U.S. did not fill a prescription due to cost. The UK’s rate was nine times lower at 2%.
Last week, I came across new information that showed about six million Americans of Medicare age were included among the 45 million. A new cross-sectional study of Commonwealth Fund international survey data from 2014 shows the percentage of older adults, 55 and up, that do not take medication because of drug prices. People in 11 high-income countries—22,532 overall—were asked if they had gone without prescribed medications in the past year because of cost.
In the U.S., 16.8% of 1593 people said yes.
For those 65 and older the percentage was 12%.
U.S. Census data from July of 2016 shows that there are about 48 million Americans 65 and older.
That means 5.8 million Americans, 65 and older, forgo taking their meds due to cost.
For international comparison: the percentage of older people skipping medications due to prices in the UK was 3.1%. In France, it was only 1.6%.
Sadly, it was quite high in Canada and Australia: 8.3%, and 6.8%, respectively.
The academic, medical term for such medication skipping because of prices is called cost-related nonadherence (CRNA). It’s a serious public health issue, one in which Americans end up getting sicker, going to the emergency room, or dead solely because they can’t pay for medications. As we move into the season when Medicare beneficiaries pick Part D plans, we’ll continue to look at how our oldest citizens are affected by high drug prices. But it’s clear that Medicare pharmacy benefits are falling far short of what is needed. While price should not block ANYONE from essential medications, the fact that so many millions of our oldest citizens who need their prescribed meds the most are forced to go without is disgusting.
Tagged with: Commonwealth Fund, CRNA, older americans
With insulin prices skyrocketing, no wonder the diabetic community is taking to social media to network and share their experiences as they swap tips and tricks not only for moral support, but also financial.
This month, we received an interesting consumer comment via our Facebook page asking if we knew that Americans are driving to Canada to buy insulin without a prescription. Well, no. As our primary focus is mail-order pharmacy, it wasn’t on our radar. Nevertheless, it sparked our interest and we’d like to share our findings with the PharmacyChecker community.
After calling 20 pharmacies across Canada (specifically in the following cities: Québec City, Toronto, Alberta, Victoria, Winnipeg and Regina) the answer is clear: Americans can obtain insulin without a prescription in Canada. All pharmacists that I called reported—rather matter-of-factly—that you do not need a prescription for any insulin product, which would include Lantus Solostar, Humalog and Levemir. We specifically talked about Lantus Solostar, a popular, long-acting insulin. The price in Canada for a three-month supply of Lantus Solostar (3 ml) is currently around $447.00 while the average retail price in the U.S. is a staggering $1,160.39. Apparently, they practice what they preach: all patients—including Americans—do not need a prescription to obtain insulin in Canada. While a prescription is not needed, the drugs are available only from the pharmacist and must be retained within an area of the pharmacy where there is no public access and no opportunity for patient self-selection (also known in the U.S. as Behind the Counter (BTC).
There are some important nuances about insulin sales in Canada that might interest you. To start, insulin is not on the Health Canada Prescription Drug List. Health Canada—the regulatory agency in Canada that is comparable to the FDA in the United States—lists insulin as a Schedule II drug. The word “schedule” in the U.S. is used to identify those medications associated with greater potential for addiction, such as Ambien or Vicodin (a prescription opiate) and other controlled substnaces. The lexicon is confusingly different in Canada and important to explain here! In Canada, Schedule II drugs, while not as strictly regulated, do still require professional intervention from the pharmacist at the point of sale and possibly a referral to a practitioner. Click here for the drug schedules regulations in British Columbia.
And did you know that when you’re crossing the border, the U.S. Customs Border Patrol (CBP) is not allowed to stop the importation of FDA-approved medication from Canada for personal use – even though it’s technically prohibited? See: Public Law 115-31. Now you know!
Something to keep in mind for those Americans ordering medications from Canada (or from any other country) through a PharmacyChecker-verified online pharmacy: you must have a prescription if a prescription is required in the United States even if one is not required elsewhere!
So, in practice, insulin products can be sold in Canada without a prescription after consultation with a pharmacist. Sound great? It is! Nevertheless, be sure to give that friendly Canadian pharmacist a call to make sure they can help you before filling up your tank for that road trip to Toronto.
Tagged with: Canada Pharmacy, diabetes, Drive to Canada, Insulin, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabates
This week, Merck’s CEO, Kenneth Frazier, resigned from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council in protest over the president’s initial response to the violence in Charlottesville, VA. White supremacist groups came together to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, who headed the Confederate Army, and counter-protesters clashed this past Saturday. During the events, a self-affiliating white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19. The president condemned the violence but made it seem as if both sides, white supremacists and counter-protesters, were equally to blame, which is wrong. Mr. Frazier believed that President Trump should have forcefully and clearly criticized white supremacists.
I strongly agree with and applaud Mr. Frazier’s action. However, I felt compelled to write about this issue because President Trump mocked Mr. Frazier on Twitter about high drug prices. He wrote: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Mr. Frazier, the son of a hardworking janitor, worked his way up to his current position. He is also African American. For obvious and good reasons, he took a stand. But Mr. Frazier is also CEO of a Big Pharma company and not interested in lower drug prices.
President Trump is the one who needs to act, and President Trump is the one who can lower drug prices.
Trump supported legalizing importation of lower cost medications during his presidential campaign. It was one of his few positions that has wide, bi-partisan public support. He has the executive authority, via the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to expressly permit personal drug importation now.
Now is the time to use that authority.
Tagged with: Big Pharma, Drug Prices, Kenneth Frazier, Merck, President Trump, Robert E. Lee
PharmacyChecker.com is now touting two new features exclusively for curious consumers and their advocates visiting our site. We couldn’t be prouder and all around excited to share this with you. These sections will undoubtedly aid in our aim for increased transparency and safety when it comes to verifying online pharmacies because not all online pharmacies are created equal, and our consumers should be fully aware of the risks and rewards of purchasing affordable medication online, including from Canadian pharmacies and abroad.
In addition to the growing Ask PharmacyChecker section, we have just added a Frequently Asked Questions section that answers questions designed not only to enlighten existing users but also to inform new visitors on what PharmacyChecker.com is all about: verifying online pharmacies so you have the information needed to safely buy prescription medication online! (more…)
Tagged with: ask pharmacychecker, FAQs, website features
Click here to read the English version!
This article was originally published in English under the title “Minority Communities Needing Better Healthcare Means Highlighting Safe and Affordable Online Pharmacies” on the PharmacyChecker Blog on June 30th, 2017. It has since been translated by Pedro Diaz into Spanish.
En medio de un débil intento de Washington para “resolver” el problema de la seguridad social, los americanos seguimos encontrando obstáculos al tratar de dar prioridad a la salud de nuestras familias. Mientras tanto, los costos de los medicamentos siguen aumentando. Esto, en particular, pone en riesgo a las comunidades minoritarias.
La crisis que representa el aumento en el precio de los medicamentos va más allá de los grupos minoritarios, pero hay estudios que muestran que, comparados con el resto de la población, los hispanos son más propensos a no seguir sus recetas médicas debido al costo. Lo que es peor, ahora que los inmigrantes tienen miedo de salir de casa, es incluso menos probable que los indocumentados consigan los medicamentos que necesitan. Sin importar tu posición en cuanto al tema de inmigración, esta tendencia es inaceptable y debe combatirse educando a la gente sobre la existencia de precios más bajos fuera de los Estados Unidos; y sin embargo hay quienes siguen sin entenderlo…
Tagged with: Drug Prices, healthcare, minority communities, Online Pharmacy
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!
Tagged with: 4 July, declaration of independence, founding fathers, human rights