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Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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On The Newly Formed Congressional Task Force on Prescription Drug Prices…

Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force Press Conference November 4, 2015
Americans should know about the heat coming down against the pharmaceutical industry from certain members of Congress in an effort to combat the public health crisis of high drug prices. This week, nine lawmakers from the House of Representatives announced the formation of a new group called the Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force. Its goals are clear, to lower cost barriers to life saving medication and to demand greater transparency about drug cost decisions made by the pharmaceutical industry.

Two pertinent facts were continually raised. One, high drug prices are the No. 1 healthcare issue in America. Two, medication prices are much lower in other countries, about 50% lower in the UK.

To announce the task force, a press conference was led by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and included speeches by Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-MI), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). We wrote about Rep. Cummings’ efforts a couple of weeks back as Congressman Cummings noted PharmacyChecker.com as a supporter of the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015. I also want to note  thank Congresswoman DeLauro for recently becoming a co-sponsor of the Personal Drug Importation Fairness Act of 2015.

The speakers have supported a variety of solutions to lowering drug prices, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies; ending “pay-for-delay,” a practice sometimes described as payoffs by brand drug patent holders to generic drug companies to that the latter will postpone launching a lower cost generic; reforming prescription drug importation laws to make it easier to access lower cost medications from other countries; and greater oversight into pharmaceutical industry pricing practices.

Some highlighted quotes or phrases:

  • “If the people are not able to afford their prescriptions that means they suffer and in some instances they die.” Rep. Cummings.
  • McDermott’s take: “The pharmaceutical companies have got the Congress in the palm of their hand and they will not let us go.”
  • The problem of high drug prices was referred to as an “emergency situation” by Rep. Sander Levin.

It’s no secret that I support much of this agenda. But what is needed is bipartisanship, and I’m waiting for these leaders, as part of their noble effort, to consider looking critically at the Obama administration’s record on personal drug importation and online pharmacies. Candidate Obama in 2007 supported reforming the law to make it easier for Americans to import lower cost medication. Unfortunately, in its efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act, which I supported, the Obama administration made a deal with big pharma to change course and dump drug importation legal reform in exchange for pharma’s support for Obamacare and agreement to new discounts on Medicare Part D medications through the coverage gap (the “Donut hole”).

On that final note, the Obama administration, though the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has announced a forum on drug prices to be held on November 20th. Maybe we’ll learn that the Obama administration’s position on prescription drug importation has returned to one more in line with most Americans. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

(You can view the complete press conference below)

Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force Press Conference

Members of the newly formed Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force will hold a press conference announcing meaningful action to combat the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals. Who: Reps. Cummings, Doggett, McDermott, DeLauro, Schakowsky, and Welch.


Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force Press Conference – Nov 4, 2015

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Congressman Cummings Notes PharmacyChecker.com’s Support for the Prescription Drug Affordability Act

Elijah_CummingsCropIn his article for AFRO – “A Growing National Outcry for Lower Prescription Drug Prices” – we were pleased to be noted by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as a supporter of the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015, and one of several organizations, including Public Citizen, Families USA, and Knowledge Ecology International that “speak of millions of Americans.” The bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is a candidate for the Democratic Primary.

Rep. Cummings highlights the fact that American public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of legal and regulatory reform to bring down drug prices. His legislation calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices with drug companies, ending “pay-to-delay” deals, which are often characterized as payoffs from brand to generic drug companies to postpone introducing a lower cost generic, and reforming drug importation laws to expand our access to lower cost medications in other countries.

PharmacyChecker.com is not taking sides in a partisan fashion. Republicans, Democrats, and independents agree on the urgency of tackling drug prices in America. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Charles Grassley (R-IW), and David Vitter (R-LA) have all introduced and sponsored drug importation reform legislation over the past few years that we support. Another example is Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who wrote an op-ed strongly in favor of legal reform of drug importation to help Americans buy lower cost medications from Canada.

The most critical factor is that we move in the right direction towards expanding access to affordable medication, and we salute Congressman Cummings for doing so.

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The Obama Administration’s Role in Combatting Rogue Online Pharmacies and Their Conflation with Safe International Online Pharmacies

As you’ll discover below, the Obama administration’s policies to combat the manufacture and sale of counterfeit medications have a lot to do with furthering the agenda of the pharmaceutical industry in discouraging and curtailing online access by Americans to safe and affordable medication. Remember “The Deal” between the Obama administration and Big Pharma, in the form of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in which the Obama administration agreed to abandon supporting drug importation legal reform to lower drug prices for Americans if PhRMA would support Obamacare? I’ve always wondered how far that deal went.

This week, in our continuing quest to get the truth out and for our elected leaders in Congress to take bold action to protect online access to safe and affordable medication, we’re publishing the next section of our report called Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation, and Public Health

(more…)

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Seth Rogen’s Congressional Testimony Highlights the High Cost of Alzheimer’s

Testifying before Congress was the last place I expected to see Seth Rogen, star of movies Superbad and Knocked Up. But there he was, in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, speaking about his family’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease in order to raise awareness about its effects, including the high costs of treatment.

Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s or its progression, there is medication that can help alleviate symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion. Rogen points out that he can’t imagine how patients on limited incomes treat Alzheimer’s and that it is the most “costly condition in the United States…where in a country for a dollar and twenty-nine cents you can get a taco made out of Doritos.” We thought it would be helpful to show how much Americans can save on Alzheimer’s medication by ordering from a verified international online pharmacy. Looking at one brand name and two generic medications, we found an average savings of 72%.

Savings on 3-month Supplies of Alzheimer’s Medication

Drug Name U.S. Pharmacy Price International Online Pharmacy Price Percent Savings Annual Savings
Rivastigmine (Exelon) – 3 mg, 180 pills – generic $959 $106.40* 89% $3,410.40
Namenda – 10 mg, 180 pills $1,139 $207+ 82% $3,728
Galantamine(Razaydne) – 8 mg ER, 180 pills – generic $546 $293.40+ 46% $1,010.40
U.S. Pharmacy Price from Rite-Aid in New York City. International Online Pharmacy Price  taken from PharmacyChecker.com.
*Price calculated from 90 pills
+Price calculated from 100 pills
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PharmacyChecker.com Vice President Gabriel Levitt Testifies Before Congressional Committee on Protecting Access to Affordable Medication Online

Gabriel Levitt Testifying Before the SubcommitteeOur vice president, Gabriel Levitt (Gabe), presented testimony at a congressional hearing yesterday, urging congress to protect Americans’ access to safe and affordable medication online. The hearing was held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet and titled “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the U.S. Intellectual Property System.” What exactly does this hearing have to do with Americans buying medication from Canada and other countries?

Basically, the government is encouraging large American companies to band together through “voluntary agreements” to stop online piracy and intellectual property violations online and this hearing discussed the effectiveness of these agreements. The heads of big business trade associations attended primarily to defend current practices and encourage even stricter rules. Although the hearing’s focus was about the online availability of copyright material like music and movies, some committee members were pleased to hear about the online pharmacy side of things. Gabe discussed the voluntary agreements adopted by leading Internet and credit card companies to combat rogue online pharmacies through their association in the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies , also known as CSIP. CSIP’s efforts, which rely on data powered by LegitScript, have successfully curbed access to some dangerous web pharmacies, but they also wrongly categorize all non-US online pharmacies that sell to Americans as “unapproved.” This may scare Americans away from safe and affordable pharmacies, including sites approved by PharmacyChecker.com. Gabe said:

We believe that voluntary agreements can be a useful tool in protecting Americans from counterfeit products, but they can also be misused in anti-competitive ways which scare and thwart Americans from accessing affordable medication. This leads to poor medication compliance with negative health consequences and also goes against the Administration’s desire that voluntary agreements not be used to impede competition.

We’d like to thank Subcommittee Ranking Member Congressman Melvin Watt who initiated the invitation to Mr. Levitt. While Congressman Watt favors voluntary agreements to combat online intellectual property violations, he genuinely sought insight into how American consumers can be negatively affected by such agreements. You can read the full PharmacyChecker.com congressional testimony and watch the hearing. (Gabe’s testimony begins at 58:00)

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