The article “Taming Drug Prices by Pulling Back the Curtain Online” in the New York Times (February 10, 2016) features a new website, Blink Health, which shows reduced drug prices available through local U.S. pharmacies. Its limitation is that savings are mostly on generic drugs, which, for the most part, are already fairly inexpensive. Describing Blink and a similar site, GoodRx, the article notes that, “The sites cannot help much with brand-name drugs, which are made by a single manufacturer and carry prices that can be as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The article fails to mention that the largest pharmacy savings on the Internet are from international online pharmacies which can offer you the lowest prices worldwide. These prices can be found on PharmacyChecker.com, which, “pulls back the curtain” even further back than Blink Health or GoodRx, by exposing the huge gap (often more than 80%) between drug prices in the U.S. and in other countries like Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Turkey, and the UK. You can also find discounted local U.S. pharmacy prices on PharmacyChecker.com.
The table below shows the lowest prices on popular brand name drugs found on PharmacyChecker.com, BlinkHealth.com, and GoodRx.com in comparison to regular U.S. pharmacy pricing.
Lowest Prices and Greatest Savings on Brand Name Drugs Using PharmacyChecker, Blink Health, and GoodRx
|Drug Name (Strength and Quantity*)
|Blink Health (BH)
Price at Local Pharmacy
|Greatest Savings Off Regular Price (Source)
(250-50; 180 doses )
(10 mg; 90 pills)
(5 mg; 180 pills)
(100 mg; 90 pills)
(20 mg; 90 pills)
Prices as of February 10, 2016
* Quantity represents a standard 3 month supply.
The media rage these days when it comes to prescription drug prices is three-fold: 1) generic drug price spikes of literally thousands of percent, 2) specialty medications that cost $1.000/pill, and 3) cancer treatment costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year! We’re glad the media is loudly covering the public health crisis of high drug prices, but its focus of late seems to take the heat off of never ending brand name drug price increases and the pharmaceutical companies that charge those prices. We haven’t forgotten. For us the heat is on: including a loud reminder that these brand drugs are sold much more affordably outside the U.S., and can be found and safely purchased online.
To help us, I looked to the research of David Belk, MD. Dr. Belk, who is concerned with, and voraciously researches the insanity of healthcare costs, publishes a website called True Cost of Healthcare. His research shows that brand name drug prices increased by 13 times the rate of inflation over the past two and a half years. These are medications for which there is no available generic in the U.S. He looked at 335 drugs, their wholesale prices and tracked their increases from the October 2012 to the beginning of 2015. Only one drug, Norvir, actually came down in price. Dr. Belk writes: “All other brand name prescription drugs on my list went up a minimum of 9% and an average of just over 40% in price in only 2 1/2 years.”
While these brand drugs aren’t $1,000 per pill like Sovaldi, many Americans really can’t afford them. Below are two examples of brand name drugs that if purchased outside the U.S., would potentially save an American $4,000 a year and/or prevent that American from going without a prescribed, essential medicine for Diabetes or Asthma.
Januvia 100mg (siptagliptin), a drug that treats type-2 diabetes could cost you $1,149 for a three month supply at a local U.S. pharmacy. With a prescription discount coupon, you might get it for $963. If that’s too much, then brand name Januvia, marketed by MSD (a subsidiary of Merck), can be purchased online for $103.50 from an international online pharmacy– a percentage savings of 91% and a cost savings exceeding $1,000 over 3 months. Over a year, the cost savings is about $4,000.
Another example is Advair Diskus (fluticasone propionate/salmeterol), a popular asthma medication that is out of reach for many Americans due to cost. A three month supply of the 250/50mcg inhaler can run you $1,050 in a local U.S. pharmacy. With a discount card the price might be reduced to $874. At a verified international online pharmacy, the drug called Seretide Accuhaler, the name brand used by GlaxoSmithKline to market fluticasone propionate/salmeterol in several countries, is only $105: another three-month savings of $1,000 and annual savings of $4,000.
This summer at PharmacyChecker.com we’re going to keep the heat on the pharmaceutical industry with lots of examples of the crazy costs of normal brand name drugs in the U.S., and cooling things down for consumers with lots of savings you can find online.
Advair Diskus is one of the most popular brand name drugs for the treatment of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It combines fluticasone, an inhaled corticosteroid, and salmeterol a long acting beta antagonist (LABA). With over 25 million Americans suffering from asthma, and an estimated annual cost of $3,300 per person, asthma patients are looking for any way possible to save.1
Advair Diskus costs $834 for a three-month supply at a local pharmacy in the U.S. Annualized, that’s over $2,500! While discount cards and coupons can help you save on Advair if you want to buy it from your local pharmacy, there are much larger savings online. Discount cards and coupons offer about 5% and 4% savings respectively. Ordering from a credentialed online pharmacy can save you over 87%.That’s over $2,900 per year.
If you need Advair immediately, and can’t wait 2 weeks or so to receive your medicine in the mail, then shop locally. When it’s time to refill, the best savings are by far found online. Just make sure you order from a verified, online pharmacy, such as those listed on PharmacyChecker.com. Whatever you do, don’t stop taking your medicine.
We’ve made a chart to show you the savings offered through various programs. Take a look below:
Savings on three-month supply of Advair 250-50 mcg
||Savings over Local Pharmacy
|U.S. Local Pharmacy
|Discount Card Option
|Discount Coupon Option
|U.S. Online Pharmacy
|International Online Pharmacy
Local pharmacy in New York City, International Online Pharmacy price as found on PharmacyChecker.com. Prices collected 10/29/2012
And for your own convenience, here are links to pricing pages for all strengths of Advair. Happy savings, and stay healthy!
Advair Diskus 100-50 mcg
Advair Diskus 250-50 mcg
Advair Diskus 500-50 mcg
1American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/asthma-statistics.aspx
Today we issued a press release showing that the most popular brand name asthma medications are on average 76% less when purchasing from the lowest-cost PharmacyChecker.com-verified online pharmacies than at U.S. bricks and mortar pharmacies. For example, a three month supply of Advair Diskus (250-50mcg/dose), a popular preventative medication, costs $947.97 at a bricks-and-mortar pharmacy in New York City. The same medicine, by the same manufacturer, costs $149.00, at a verified international online pharmacy – a savings of 84%. With such high prices domestically it’s no surprise Americans with asthma often find themselves going without needed treatments and ending up in emergency rooms.
A 2005 study sponsored by Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health, and USA Today found that 44% of American households with an asthma sufferer are unable to follow prescribed treatments due to cost. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million Americans went to emergency rooms in 2009 due to their asthma conditions. The CDC attributed such hospitalizations to low adherence to asthma management strategies, which include taking preventative asthma medication. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month reported that out-of-pocket costs for medicine were a factor in greater hospitalization rates among children with asthma in the U.S
The health benefits of products such as Advair Diskus, Flovent, and Singulair – preventative asthma medications –are sometimes difficult for patients to ascertain when they are not showing asthma symptoms. Unfortunately, because prices for these products are so high in the United States, Americans view skipping these medications as a way to save money and others simply can’t afford them. If more Americans could find these products at more reasonable prices, such as from verified international online pharmacies, then adherence would improve, leading to less ER visits, better overall health outcomes, and lower healthcare costs for all of us. And with more affordable asthma medication, trips to the grocery store will be less daunting.
For more on asthma medication prices, see the press release.