“Migraine” by Sasha Wolff from Grand Rapids – Can’t Concentrate: 14/365. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Dr. David Belk, a practicing physician in California, healthcare cost research guru and Huffington Post blogger, recently wrote a story about the huge difference in price faced by one of his patients when trying to fill a prescription for the migraine medication called Maxalt (rizatriptan). Since my daughter suffers from migraines, I know how debilitating migraine headache can be and how important it is to have the medication when you need it.
Essentially, Dr. Belk discovered that Walgreens, a big chain pharmacy, was charging much more money than another pharmacy – in this case Costco. The price for the generic at Walgreens without insurance was $1,490 for 40 pills, or $37 a pill, and even with insurance the price was almost $17 dollars a pill. But Dr. Belk’s patient ended up getting the medication at Costco for $1.03 per pill!!
Now ordinarily here’s where we’d write about how you might consider PharmacyChecker- verified international online pharmacies to purchase Maxalt or rizatriptin if you don’t have insurance – but you would not need to. According to Dr. Belk’s post, Costco’s price was the cash price! None of the online pharmacies in our program sell it for just over a buck a pill. It’s the cheapest in the U.S.A.!
A few months back, Tod Cooperman, MD, founder of PharmacyChecker.com was on Fox and Friends talking about another big chain pharmacy, one accused of overcharging consumers for generic medications. It seems that the problem is not just Big Pharma but Big Pharmacy.
Drug prices these days seem to be all over the place. The moral of this story: shop around as much as possible and don’t trust your friendly neighborhood chain pharmacy or assume that international online pharmacies are cheapest. I know it’s enough to give you a headache, even a migraine, but finding the lowest drug prices will help lessen the pain.
Tagged with: Dr. David Belk, Drug Prices, Huffington Post, maxalt, migraine, rizatriptan, Tod Cooperman, walgreens
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.
Tagged with: Advair Diskus, Cancer medication, Dr. David Belk, generic drug prices, Januvia, Merck, Seretide Accuhaler, Sovaldi, speciality medications