PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Even Drugs Manufactured in America are not “Made in the USA”

PharmacyChecker pays close attention and has performed considerable research related to where drugs are made. Most notably, by researching drug labels and contacting drug companies, we found that 71% of brand name drugs sold in the U.S. are foreign made, a number far higher than the 40% figure regurgitated by the FDA year after year. Americans care a lot about this issue. One of our more popular Ask PharmacyChecker posts is called “How can I determine where a drug is manufactured?” But here’s something different to chew on: Even drugs that our research categorized as manufactured in the U.S.  are often not really very “American.” In fact, many are categorized as imported and considered to be foreign-made pharmaceuticals by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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Ending Big Pharma’s Co-pay Cards as Deductibles Hurts Consumers

I’m on a roll here, agreeing with drug companies on an issue related to affordable medicines access. Last week, I wrote about Gilead’s messaging about remdesivir, the new Covid-19 treatment permitted via FDA’s emergency use authorization: namely that you can’t buy remdesivir online: if you try, you’ll be scammed. Often drug companies lie or pay others to lie about buying drugs online from other countries, but not in that case. This week, I’m agreeing with the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) that the Trump administration’s new rule on drug manufacturer co-payment cards is not good for consumers because it will prevent the co-payment from counting toward deductibles, which means higher costs for patients.

If you didn’t know, drug manufacturers blanket medical offices throughout the country with their co-pay cards. These cards are sometimes immensely helpful to patients going to fill a prescription for a brand name drug, particularly when there is no generic substitute. How? Simple: the drug company picks up the tab!

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Gilead says remdesivir is not sold online and they are correct

A good portion of this blog takes on Big Pharma for their funding of misleading public information campaigns and programs against drug importation and the practice of safe international online pharmacies. Much of their messaging tries to convey that you can’t find their medications online at lower cost from other countries safely. Because of the work we do, we know for a fact that claim is ridiculous and independent research backs that up entirely. That’s why when I read information on Gilead’s website about remdesivir, which is a promising new treatment for Covid-19, having to do with buying medication online it hit me hard that I totally agreed with them. They wrote that authentic remdesivir is not available online. Sadly, we will see charlatans popping up to offer it over the Internet.

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Trump’s Pakistani Imported Chloroquine Phosphate: FDA Inspections vs. EU Testing to Ensure Drug Safety

In late March, drug giant Bayer Pharmaceuticals, out of the goodness of its heart, agreed to donate three million tablets of chloroquine phosphate to help the Trump administration get this drug into U.S. pharmacies. That’s according to an investigative article in Vanity Fair by Katherine Eban, called:

“‘Really Want to Flood NY and NJ’: Internal Documents Reveal Team Trump’s Chloroquine Master Plan”

How inflammatory?! For Trump lovers, that title has the ring of just more biased, liberal media Trump-bashing. For Trump haters, it’s another reason to hate Trump. This post isn’t about our constant partisan divide or even Bayer or other evil drug companies, although they are referenced. It’s also not about unproven treatments for Covid-19 (that was last week). All parties should be interested in the story behind the story: independent drug testing and its potential importance to determine if a drug is safe and effective.  

I’m a big fan of testing prescription drugs to see if they have the right stuff (to put it eloquently). Here’s why: lots of pharma-funded groups and some people at the FDA say don’t buy medicine online from foreign countries because it’s allegedly unsafe. Yet, independent testing of about a thousand prescription drug orders has shown that personal drug importation can and is done very safely. Periodic testing of foreign online pharmacy medication orders over the last decade has proven the efficacy of brand name Celebrex, Lipitor, Nexium, Viagra and Zoloft; generic ciprofloxacin and atorvastatin; and, just last month, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate.

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Counterfeit Chloroquine Doesn’t Treat Covid-19; Does Genuine Chloroquine?

Sad as it may be, it should not surprise anyone that hucksters are peddling coronavirus quackery on the Internet related to the treatment of Covid-19. Whether it be through marketing a fake test, medical advice or shoddy personal protective equipment, bad people are trying to profit off this crisis. Recent research shows that rogue websites are selling fake chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine, taking advantage of the promotion of these antimalarials as possible treatments for the novel coronavirus.

A few weeks back, there were huge spikes in the number of people seeking out these drugs online. We know because of the increased traffic to drug price pages for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine on PharmacyChecker.com. Rogue websites market these drugs without requiring a prescription. When it comes to PharmacyChecker-accredited online pharmacies, consumers cannot just self-prescribe; they must provide a valid prescription.

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FDA Seizures of Mail-order Prescriptions Increase in the Time of Coronavirus

Unbelievably, the FDA has increased seizures of international mail-order prescriptions over the past month.

Historically, far less than one percent of personal medicine imports are taken away by the FDA, despite the federal restrictions on importation. I only believe this to be the case if the exporting pharmacy requires a valid prescription. I don’t know if the FDA is more aggressive with rogue pharmacy actors than with legitimate pharmacies. I hope they are.

There are a few basic reasons why so many imports get through even when they may technically violate U.S. law:

First, enforcement discretion, through which the FDA can permit otherwise prohibited imports;

Second, political considerations, in that no administration wants to be viewed as taking away people’s medications, especially from older folks;

Third, the volume of imports being too great to handle with millions of packages coming in through international mail facilities;

and Fourth, in some instance the drug imports, as long as they are for personal use, could be deemed compliant with federal law.

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