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Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Imported Meds Save Lives by Improving Medication Adherence

The hearings on Capitol Hill about drug prices were a big deal this week. To policy wonks. All the rage was the report by the National Academies of Sciences about policies to lower drug prices. There was lot of intriguing discussion, debate, and deliberation on things we should do. Many that I agree with! Blah, blah, blah, blah. Medicare should negotiate drug prices! We should make generics available quicker! We should clamp down on patent abuse by big pharma! More price transparency! Stop direct-to-consumer advertising! Blah, blah, blah…blah. All of this was a big deal. To policy wonks.

What about people today?!??!

Now I like talking policy – too much sometimes. But I’m not writing about that hearing. No way. I came across a little piece in the New York Times, which loudly reminded me of this fact: While Congress debates, activists act, and policy nuts pontificate on drug prices –foreign pharmacies are the solution that saves American lives NOW. This is indisputable.

Access to more affordable drugs keeps Americans out of the hospital, able to lead more productive lives – and living. That’s what the most conclusive research proves.

For that reason: There’s no doubt in my mind that properly verified Canadian and other foreign online pharmacies are a boon to public health because they are far cheaper than U.S. pharmacies. Just to be clear: It’s not just that they help Americans save hundreds of millions of dollars a year – maybe billions (wish I knew). They are saving lives. (more…)

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New Analysis Shows Almost Six Million Americans 65 and Older Skip Meds Annually Due to Cost

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.

 

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Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation and Public Health: Executive Summary

Last week we wrote that we would present a new section of Gabe Levitt’s report on online pharmacies. This week, we are going to start off with the Executive Summary of the report. We’ve given a sample below, but you’ll have to visit PharmacyChecker.com to view the whole Executive Summary.

The U.S. government relies on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for objective and independent research and analysis of government programs and policies that affect public health. GAO’s report entitled Internet Pharmacies: Federal Agencies and States Face Challenges Combatting Rogue Sites, Particularly Those Abroad (the “GAO report”) contains critical inaccuracies and omits important peer-reviewed research to the extent that lawmakers and their staffs will likely draw erroneous conclusions about international online pharmacies that could lead to overreaching and unnecessary enforcement actions that disadvantage consumers and threaten public health. The GAO report was written pursuant to Section 1127 of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 (FDASIA), a law dedicated to protecting public health.

In contrast to the GAO report, the following holistic, consumer-focused, evidence-based analysis discusses online pharmacies within the important context of a health crisis caused by high drug prices in America, and can more appropriately guide lawmakers on how to protect the public from counterfeit or substandard medication. Legitimate public health concerns about rogue online pharmacies are being used to encourage legislative, regulatory, and private sector actions that curtail online access to safe and affordable medication. The consequence of overreach could be millions more Americans facing economic hardship or having to forgo prescribed medication, which studies show can lead to more sickness and death.

Fifty million Americans did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2012, according to the Commonwealth Fund. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, over half of Americans who do not take prescription medication due to cost report becoming sicker.1 That means potentially 25 million Americans become sicker each year because they can’t afford prescribed medication. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about five million Americans buy prescription drugs from foreign sources each year for reasons of cost.  Additional estimates show that between four and five million Americans get their imported prescription drugs through international online pharmacies due to their lower prices.
(more…)

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