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Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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More Free Medicine Across America…So Merry Christmas

2015 is drawing to a close, a year that the Chicago Tribune is calling “the year of drug price outrage.” Right now many American consumers are struggling to pay for their medication and not feeling a lot of holiday cheer.

We mentioned last week, some pharmacies are actually giving away select medications for free. Publix is one place where you can get medications such as Amlodipine, Lisinopril and Metformin for free. Unfortunately, Publix stores are located only in the Southeast United States. What if you live in some other state? Last week we said we’d come back to you with more reporting on this free medicine business in 2016 – but we couldn’t wait to start.

If you live in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia or Maryland, you might live near a Giant Eagle Supermarket. Giant Eagle offers free antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, Cephalexin and Ciprofloxacin. You just need to sign up for their “Giant Eagle Advantage” discount card.

Folks in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky who shop at Meijer Stores can get the diabetes drug Metformin, the cholesterol medication Atorvastatin, pre-natal vitamins or a 14-day supply of antibiotic free.

As for the Northeast, ShopRite Markets in New York and New Jersey has a free 30-day supply of diabetes medication.  And my mom’s favorite supermarket, Price Chopper (found in Upstate New York and New England) is another chain whose pharmacies offer free antibiotics and free diabetes medications (Glimepiride, Glipizide and Metformin).

Pharmacists at these stores don’t wear red suits and hand out presents, and yes, these programs exist to bring in customers who will fill other prescriptions and spend money on impulse items, like holiday candy and last-minute gifts. But hey, I’d like to think these companies genuinely care about their customers’ well-being and that they believe it’s important to give as well as receive. So Merry Christmas from PharmacyChecker!

Santa Claus

 

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Can You Find Free Prescription Medication in the U.S.? Going Publix…

Close up of dollar billI’m talking about super-sized supermarket Publix, which operates over 1000 stores throughout the Southeastern U.S. Sure, it’s not the only superstore to offer this but I happened to come across its Free Medication Program while researching drug prices today: and I want to talk about it.

There’s a lot of yelling and screaming and downright hostility toward the pharmaceutical industry (much of it warranted), including against generic drug companies, who are under scrutiny because some old generics have increased in price by thousands of percent. So here’s a little relief…free medication.

The list is not long but the following drugs are free at Publix pharmacies: Amlodipine, Lisinopril, and Metformin. Bring your script and walk out with a 90 day supply free. If you’re prescribed a 14-day antibiotic treatment of Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim, Ciprofloxacin (but not its XR version) and Penicillin VK – free at Public Pharmacies.

Now most of us don’t live near a Publix. Very low cost and free drug programs at U.S. retailers and chain pharmacies were launched almost a decade ago when Walmart announced its $4 prescription drug programs. The programs are still around and a report is long overdue about them. I promise to bring you a broader list of these free medication programs in the New Year.

Why would a pharmacy offer medications for free? If you’re looking for a full explanation, here’s some good journalism in Toledo’s The Blaze from 2006. It has something to do with the medication being a “loss leader” for the company. Then again, who cares – the meds are free.

 

 

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A New Non-Profit Is Born – Prescription Justice Action Group – To Help Americans If Their Meds Are Taken by the FDA

pjag_banner_med

Today, as the Obama administration hosted a “public” forum (think invitation only) about pharmaceutical innovation, access and affordability, I announced the formation of a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Americans get justice when it comes to prescription drug prices: Prescription Justice Action Group (PJAG). Whereas the administration’s public forum ignored personal drug importation, PJAG is providing guidance to Americans on what to do if their prescription drug orders are refused import by the FDA so they can try to have their medications released.

For about fifteen years, tens of millions of Americans have purchased medication from outside the U.S. –usually ordering it online. They do it because they want to save money or they really cannot afford the medication here at local pharmacies. The fact is that it has become a lifeline of lower cost medications for Americans.

But a new law – Section 708 of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act – gives the FDA expanded powers to destroy your personally imported medications, whether bought from a Canadian, Indian, Turkish or U.K. pharmacy. That doesn’t mean they will. It just means that they can. That law became effective over a month ago, and we haven’t heard of increased FDA seizures and destructions of international prescription orders.

The FDA has stated, and we have re-affirmed on our blog and main website, that under most circumstances it’s technically illegal to import prescription medication for personal use. But is it really? Is it always?

Section 708 allows the FDA to detain and potentially destroy your prescription order if it appears to be misbranded, unapproved, counterfeit or adulterated. If they take your adulterated or counterfeit drugs then the FDA has done their job. Misbranded or unapproved drugs, in contrast, could be entirely safe and effective medications, the same or foreign versions of the ones you buy in the U.S., but much less expensive. Under Section 708, you must be notified by the FDA if they take your prescription drug import, and you have 20 days to challenge them on their action. PJAG, in consultation with legal advisers, believes that you can make a good case that FDA should not destroy the medication but instead send it to you.

There are many dangerous online pharmacies out there from which you don’t want to buy or import medication. We call them rogue online pharmacies. But if you import a genuine, safe and effective medication, one that was purchased from a PharmacyChecker.com-approved online pharmacy and you get a notification from the FDA telling you that your prescription drug order is subject to destruction…PJAG!

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How to Save Up to 66% on Eliquis

Electrocardiogram

More than six million Americans suffer from atrial fibulation (AFib), a heart condition that puts them at a much higher risk for blood clots and can cause a stroke. Strokes are most often seen in people over 65, and can lead to paralysis and death.

There are many anticoagulants (blood thinning drugs) used to prevent strokes, Coumadin (warfarin) being one of the oldest and most commonly used. But Coumadin is not right for some people: it can cause heavy internal bleeding and requires regular and frequent blood tests.

One of the newer medications, Eliquis, has been shown to have a lower risk of major bleeding and is better for people suffering from kidney disease. It is also effective as a medication for preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is caused when blood clots form in large veins, usually in the legs, and often in those with restricted mobility, such as people who are recovering from surgery.

But Eliquis can be expensive. If you don’t have insurance or are underinsured and have to pay out-of-pocket, the retail price is around $1,182.00 for a 90 day supply at a local U.S. pharmacy. Americans are at serious risk if they can’t afford this medication, especially seniors who are most likely to suffer a stroke. Despite Medicare Part D coverage, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 13% of poorer Americans over the age of 65 did not take their medication as prescribed.1 And that can put their health and even their lives at risk.

There are ways of reducing the cost of Eliquis (see the table below). If you use a pharmacy discount card, you may be able to get it down to about $1,021 at your local U.S. pharmacy. But that still works out to over $4,080 per year. For many Americans those prices are out of reach. Fortunately, Eliquis 5mg, 90 days’ supply, is only $401.99 using a verified international online pharmacy, a savings of more than $3,100 versus the retail pharmacy price over a year’s time.

If you have AFib, and are prescribed Eliquis by a doctor, it’s vital for you to stay on your medication. Hopefully these price comparisons help you evaluate the best option for your health and savings. If you decide to buy internationally, remember, when using an online pharmacy, makes sure it’s one that’s been verified by PharmacyChecker.com.

Compare drug prices for Eliquis.

Eliquis 5 mg Savings (90 day supply)
Program Price Savings over Local Pharmacy Percent Savings Annual Savings
Local Pharmacy* $1,181.97
Pharmacy Discount Card* $1,021.88 $160.09 14% $640.36
International Online Pharmacy $401.99 $779.99 66% $3,119.94

 

*Savings based on lowest price listed on PharmacyChecker.com compared to local U.S. pharmacy price (8/21/15).

1 Center for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db184.htm

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Legalizing Personal Drug Importation from Canadian Pharmacies – Amen and Word Up!

Well, here we go again, another bill that would formally legalize a practice that has been going on for decades: Americans importing meds from Canadian pharmacies, at the very least to cut down on their drug bills, and in some cases even to afford life-saving medicines. Sorry to sound cynical, but I’ve seen these bills before and Big Pharma is always behind their failure – but what about this time?

The bill, H.R. 2228, was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) barely a week ago and co-sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and is entitled “Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015.” It seems to mirror legislation in the Senate, S. 122, introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which has the same title.

The bills are focused on Canadian pharmacies only, not the wider landscape of international online pharmacies, which are often based in Canada: ones that millions of Americans have benefited from for over a decade. If H.R. 2228 passes, the FDA would be required to publish a list of approved Canadian pharmacies from which Americans could legally import, for personal use, non-controlled, non-biologic, and non-temperature sensitive, prescription medications. That would include the majority of maintenance prescription drugs that Americans are currently importing for personal use.

I support this bill 100%. Even though our program is open to safe and licensed pharmacies in other countries, not just ones in Canada and the U.S., the new bill moves the public policy and economic justice needle in the right direction. The practice of international pharmacy began with Americans crossing the border to buy lower cost medications in Canada and then, with the advent of the Internet, buying through mail order. Current law, technically, bans the practice and, unjustly, views it as a criminal act – even though no one has been prosecuted for it. The new bill in the House and Senate would lift the unethical ban on buying lower cost medications for their own use from Canada. Amen and Word Up to that!

So head on over to RxRights.org to contact your elected representatives and let them know you want them to vote for the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015!

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