By Intropin (Own work), Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons [(CC BY 3.0)]
The price of the life-saving injection epinephrine, which is prescribed for people with serious allergies, is out of control, surging by 480% since 2009, CBS News reports. But American parents are actually choosing to forgo buying it because of the cost. Enough! For EpiPen Jr, the brand usually prescribed to kids, the lowest price U.S. option found on GoodRx is $614 for a package of two. The lowest price for two injections at a PharmacyChecker.com-approved online pharmacy is just over $200. That means a potential $400 – 66% – savings. Much more than the numbers: for some parents this is the difference between buying or not buying a medication that can save their kid’s life.
I’m a parent and this makes me sick and angry. But what will doubly disgust me today is if I read some Pharma-funded bull about unsafe medication in other countries that might scare a parent away from lower cost Epinephrine. This is life and death for kids. Only the truth is acceptable. The EpiPen Jr is marketed by generic drug giant Mylan in the U.S. But lower cost options internationally are either manufactured or licensed by Pfizer, the drug’s innovator, which should take the wind out of the sails of bogus arguments about “foreign drugs.”
Yes, but it depends where you live. For example, if you live in Florida, according to Kaiser Health News, apparently it’s very easy to find a local “storefront” where you can buy lower cost medication from Canada and other countries. Of course, consumers do not need to go to a pharmacy storefront to benefit from lower drug prices in other countries. They can compare drug prices among safe international online pharmacies in our Verification Program.
As with most personal drug importation, the FDA has said importing meds from foreign pharmacies is technically illegal under most circumstances. In practice, the FDA does not prosecute individuals for importing small quantities of prescription drugs for personal use. According to Kaiser Health News, the pharmacy storefronts in Florida have not faced regulatory actions. A professor of health policy at University of South Florida, Sean Greggory, stated that shutting down storefronts “would be seen as restricting access to affordable drugs and supporting big bad [drug] corporations.”
PharmacyChecker.com checks the credentials of international online pharmacies to verify that they are licensed and operating properly but to date we have not checked storefront pharmacy operations. However, over the years, we’ve heard about storefronts throughout the U.S. that refer orders to pharmacies in other countries and, if those pharmacies are licensed and operating safety, we think it’s great!
The need for the storefronts is greatest among older Americans. Their Part D Medicare drug plans are not always adequate to cover prescription costs and seniors continue to face drug affordability problems. The storefronts, like international online pharmacies, offer much lower prices on brand name drugs than local U.S. pharmacies.
When online pharmacies, particularly the Canadian options, were first available over 15 years ago, many seniors did not know how to use the Internet or felt uncomfortable doing so. In 2000, only 14% of seniors used the Internet, compared to 58% in 2015 [Source]. But that still leaves a lot of seniors who might have trouble ordering medication online by themselves. For them, pharmacy storefronts can be a lifeline. As the Kaiser article points out, while “Many consumers do their own online buying from foreign pharmacies…storefront operators target an older generation interested in buying medicines abroad but who lack computer savvy and are insecure about buying online by themselves.”
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 than Blink Health and GoodRx by exposing the huge gap (often more than 80%) between drug prices in the U.S. and those in other countries — such as 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