High prescription drug costs make Americans sicker and contribute to our national budget woes, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released at the end of last year. The report serves as a reminder to always take your prescribed medicines. We view this study as further evidence that access to affordable medication from reputable international online pharmacies improves the health of Americans and decreases healthcare spending.
To put it simply, as consumers’ out-of-pocket drug costs rise, they are less likely to take their medicine as prescribed, which leads to more medical services and increased healthcare spending. The CBO report tells us that the converse follows: when out-of-pocket prescription costs fall there is less need for medical services, and as a result less healthcare spending.
The CBO’s report is based on an analysis of relatively new studies that have tracked out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and overall healthcare spending in employer and government-based health insurance programs. The result is that CBO has now internalized out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in its methodology for calculating the effects of legislation affecting drug costs. This means if a new bill aims to bring down prescription drug prices in the United States or through drug importation, CBO would calculate how many more prescriptions would be filled and estimate the resulting decrease in healthcare spending.
It is critical that our elected leaders and government officials take this into account when considering new laws or taking actions that affect access to affordable medication .Just yesterday, Minnesota U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar re-introduced a bill, The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, to enable the federal government to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices with drug manufacturers. Such legislation would most certainly lower drug costs, improve health, and decrease the taxpayer burden on healthcare spending
Tagged with: CBO, healthcare spending, Medicare, Medicare Drug Plans, Medication non-adherence, Prescription Drug Prices
A major U.S. pharmacy has finally said that high drug prices are the biggest barrier to medication adherence. A recent study from CVS Caremark revealed that 62% of pharmacists said high drug prices are the most common cause of prescription nonadherence (not taking your meds) among their patients. Ninety-one percent of pharmacists said that cost efficient alternatives to expensive therapies would improve adherence.
While previous studies from the pharmaceutical and pharmacy industries have mentioned that that cost is a barrier to medication, this is the first industry study to our knowledge that says cost is the primary barrier. Oddly enough, the pharmacy industry, including CVS and Caremark, is one of the industries profiting from high drug prices.
High drug prices are bad for public health. Medication adherence is linked to 125,000 deaths and 290 billion dollars in excess health spending per year (hospitalizations and emergency room spending, among others). High drug prices cause a large part of this – 48 million Americans did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2010.
Americans – both as patients and taxpayers – deserve access to low cost medication. As patients, our health is on the line. As taxpayers we are funding hospital stays and emergency room visits. Lower drug prices are needed in America – and the benefits go beyond simply having extra cash in your pocket.
And as far as savings go, remember to ask your pharmacist how to save. Generic medications, discount cards, and coupons offer some savings. For brand name medications without generic alternatives, you’ll find the best savings at an online pharmacy. Just make sure it’s safe and credentialed, like those listed on PharmacyChecker.com. Whatever you do, don’t forgo needed prescription medication.
Tagged with: CVS Caremark, Drug Prices, Medication non-adherence, Online Pharmacy
The problem of Americans not taking medications is caused by high costs of prescription drugs, undesirable side-effects, health literacy, forgetfulness among other reasons. Medication non-adherence is a $317 billion problem. The U.S. Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a request to individuals and organizations to submit information about the national problem of medication adherence. Specifically, the government’s request presents “the opportunity to identify issues relevant to all levels of government, as well as individuals, health care providers, and industry and private organizations in efforts to improve medication adherence in adults with chronic conditions.”
Since cost is one of the critical factors inhibiting Americans from getting needed medication, we believe the government should take more proactive steps to provide useful information about how to obtain affordable medication online. Our analysis and recommendations are published below. For a PDF copy click here.
The Honorable Howard K. Koh, MD., M.P.H.
Assistant Secretary for Health
The Honorable Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A.
Surgeon General of the United States
200 Independence Ave., SW
Washington DC 20201
Re: Request for Information on Prescription Medication Adherence
Submitter: Gabriel Levitt, Vice President, PharmacyChecker.com, 333 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY 10605. (718) 387-4526, Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prescription medication non-adherence should be treated as a national crisis since so many Americans suffer as a result. Some of the reasons for non-adherence are health literacy, psychological issues, side effects of medications, and lack of support systems. There are also tens of millions of Americans who simply can’t afford medication. A survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that 48 million Americans did not fill a prescription in 2010 due to high medication costs.[i] The data show the negative health and economic effects of non-adherence to prescription medication. First, it’s been reported that 121,000 people die each year due to prescription non-adherence.[ii] Second, according to the FDA, non-adherence to prescription medication costs the country $290 billion annually in additional health care costs.[iii] Third, numerous studies have shown that cost is either the number one reason, or a major factor for non-adherence. [iv]
Access to safe and affordable medication should be encouraged through all available sources, including personal drug importation. Over the past 15 years millions of Americans have obtained needed prescription drugs through non-U.S. online pharmacies, despite its technical illegality. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not prosecute people for small quantities of personal drug imports.
The FDA discourages Americans from ordering from any non-U.S. online pharmacy, not because it’s illegal but for safety reasons. Its position is that the drugs ordered from Canadian and other foreign pharmacies are not regulated by the FDA, and are therefore unsafe. That position is simply unsubstantiated. Fortunately for people living in other countries there are other national regulatory authorities that regulate drugs to make sure they are safe and effective.
We’ve established that the problem of prescription medication adherence is so severe in large part due to high drug prices. If it is safe to order less expensive medication online that allows Americans to adhere to their doctor’s prescription then we should encourage their use. Are non-US online pharmacies safe?
The evidence shows that properly credentialed non-US online pharmacies which fill orders from licensed pharmacies, require a valid prescription, and provide verifiable contact information on their websites safely dispense genuine medication. The medication purchased for personal drug importation is often the same brand name product – from the same manufacturer – sold here but at a much lower price, often 80% less than U.S. pharmacies. A consumer is almost certain to receive proper care and safe medications from one that meets the aforementioned criteria and is certified in the PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program.[v] In fact, U.S. Government Accountability Office studies have shown the relative safety of Canadian online pharmacies compared to U.S. online pharmacies.[vi]
We recommend that the Secretary of Health and Human Services instruct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to:
- Correct its website and consumer communications about online pharmacies to reflect the facts demonstrated by over a decade of studies and consumer experience. The FDA website should communicate that “if you decide to purchase medication online from Canada or another country then only use properly credentialed websites.”
- Explicitly allow, at least on a temporary basis, personal drug importation through properly credentialed non-US online pharmacies.
By taking these steps fewer Americans will go without needed prescription medication because it will be affordable. Moreover, more people taking prescribed medication will lead to fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, resulting in lower healthcare costs for the nation.
Tagged with: FDA, HHS, Medication non-adherence, prescription drug importation
[i] Commonwealth Fund: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Surveys/2011/Mar/2010-Biennial-Health-Insurance-Survey.aspx
[ii] Cut Copayments to Bolster Adherence”, The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, See http://www.cmpi.org/in-the-news/in-the-news/cut-drug-copayments-to-bolster-adherence/(last accessed July 27, 2011).
[iii] Campaign to Improve Poor Medication Adherence (U18), A Notice by the Food and Drug Administration on 03/09/2011, See http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/09/2011-5287/campaign-to-improve-poor-medication-adherence-u18#p-13, (last accessed July 27, 2011).
[iv] For more information see: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/09/2011-5287/campaign-to-improve-poor-medication-adherence-u18; http://www.nclnet.org/images/PDF/adherence_focus_groups.pdf; http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2008-releases/poll-usa-today-kaiser-harvard-prescription-drugs.html (last accessed July 27, 2011)
[v] Bate, Roger, Ginger Zhe Jin and Aparna Mathur. “Unveiling the Mystery of Online Pharmacies: An Audit Studay”. National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper #17655 (http://www.nber.org/papers/w17955.pdf). April 2012.
[vi] U.S. Government Accountability Office. Some Internet Pharmacies Pose Safety Risks For Consumers, GAO-04-820. Washington, DC. Government Accountability Office June 2004. See http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04820.pdf (last accessed June 26th, 2011).