Viagra, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s name for a drug called sildenafil citrate, is the most sought after medication on the Internet. You can save a lot of money buying Viagra online, but you can also risk getting a fake or tainted product which endangers your health. Here’s how to stay safe and save money. (more…)
The FDA issued a warning about counterfeit Cialis, an erectile dysfunction (ED) medication, being sold through the mail, which probably means it was purchased from a rogue online pharmacy. The fake Cialis is some whacky combination of Cialis’s active ingredient, tadalafil, and the active ingredient in Pfizer’s Viagra, called sildenafil. Apparently, the FDA seized the counterfeit product before it reached a consumer in the U.S. by mail.
Fortunately, over 99% of safe, personally imported prescription drugs are not seized at international mail facilities. Still, I’ve given the FDA considerable grief about seizing safe medications, which they usually deem “misbranded” or “unapproved” for intellectual property or labeling reasons – but in this case FDA protected someone from a bad drug and that’s cool.
According to Reuters, FDA “cautioned against purchasing prescription medicines online, noting that some websites may be selling unsafe products.” The FDA also said that there is no indication that the “legitimate supply chain” – meaning the U.S. domestic supply chain – is at risk and that licensed U.S. pharmacies are safe. That’s probably true but there’s no reason to believe that the legitimate supply chains in other countries aren’t safe either. In other words, foreign online pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com continue to sell real Cialis, the one marketed by Eli Lilly, for a lot less than they do here. The lowest cost Cialis (10mg) is $14.25 at a PharmacyChecker.com-approved international online pharmacy. That compares with a whopping $44.92 per pill at a one of the lower cost VIPPS-approved online pharmacies (VIPPS is the online pharmacy verification program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy).
The FDA recommends that consumers do not take Cialis supplied in bottles matching one or more of the following descriptions:
- lists “AUSTR81137” on the front of the bottle;
- does not include an NDC number on the front of the bottle, such as “NDC 0002-4462-30” for the 20 mg tablets;
- does not include the tablet strength in a colored box;
- has different patterns and colors; it has yellow and darker green designs on the front label;
- has misspellings; it lists, “CLALIS is a product of: Eli lilly Australia PTY Limited” on the side of the bottle;
- lists the manufacturer location as “112 Wharf Road, WEST RYDE, NSW 2114” on the side of the bottle; and
- lists “Lot: AC 066018, Exp: 01SEP17” on the side of the bottle.
I don’t agree with one of these – the bolded one – and here’s why: safe and real Cialis, or other genuine medications, ordered from online pharmacies won’t necessarily have an NDC number on it. In fact, if you were to travel to another country and purchase meds, real prescription drugs, in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, they would not have an NDC number. That’s because NDC is unique to drugs packaged for sale in American pharmacies. Other countries use different labeling systems; for example, Canada’s version of NDC is called DIN (drug identification number).
One last important note: the truth is that many people want to get ED meds online, whether it’s Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra, without a prescription. PharmacyChecker.com strongly recommends that you don’t do that. The studies show that online pharmacies that don’t require a valid prescription are more likely to sell fake or otherwise bad medication, especially bogus ED meds!
A new report from Reuters suggests that pricing pressures resulting from Obamacare may close U.S. and international prescription drug price disparities – with U.S. prices more than double those of other high-income countries – within three to five years. As good as that could be, it’s a long way away for Americans who currently struggle with drug prices. With tens of millions going without meds due to cost, the problem is more urgent than ever.
U.S. brand-name drug prices continue their vigorous rise, in stark contrast to international price declines. Brand-name U.S. drug prices rose 11% in 2011, almost triple the 3% inflation rate. Meanwhile, prices in Canada stayed the same, and actually dropped in France and Switzerland by 3 and 4 percent, respectively.
Reuters politely explains this gap:
“Companies like Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca have grown dependent on higher U.S. prices to generate profits as generic rivals to their best-selling medicines enter the world market, Europe’s government-run health plans clamp down on spending and sales growth in emerging markets stutters.”
Perhaps these price increases explain the 50 million Americans between the ages 19-64 and the 20% of Medicare enrollees who do not fill a prescription due to cost each year.
Look at the price of Januvia, a drug mentioned in the Reuters article. Its wholesale price is 75% higher in the U.S. than in Austria. Our own research shows the price gap at the retail level. The price at a local pharmacy for 90 pills is $978. It costs only $375 online from a verified Canadian pharmacy. That’s 62% cheaper.
Hopefully, the Affordable Care Act will lead to reduced drug prices domestically, but that will take some time. Until then international online pharmacies will remain a lifeline for Americans.
Our last post highlighted the end-of-the-month release of the long-awaited generic version of Lipitor, the most popular cholesterol-lowering drug in America. Brand-name Lipitor, manufactured by drug giant Pfizer, has been one of the key contributors to American’s high drug bills for the past 15 years. A generic version will mean massive savings for some and basic affordability for many.
Last week, however, the New York Times shared that Pfizer (unsurprisingly) wants to block access to that affordable generic. Pfizer is going to offer “large discounts for benefit managers that block the use of generic versions of Lipitor” – “When patients submit a prescription for a generic version of Lipitor, they are to be given Lipitor instead.” So, those covered by the benefit managers who accept the discount will end up paying the same high co-pay, despite the availability of a lower priced drug!
These tactics by the largest drug manufacturer to keep drug prices higher are disappointing but not surprising. After all, in addition to lobbying the U.S. government to prevent safe personal drug importation, it funds programs to scare Americans away from buying its own medication at a lower price from Canada and other countries.
Pfizer’s latest move seems to only affect Americans with health insurance who, under the Pfizer/benefit manager deal, would pay $25 monthly co-pays (instead of $10 per month) – that’s $75 for a three month supply. That’s a stark contrast to Americans without health insurance who can pay $535.00 at a local CVS in New York City. By comparing prices of verified online pharmacies at PharmacyChecker.com, the uninsured may at least knock their monthly brand name Lipitor costs to $85.70.
Fortunately, due to the economics of generic drug competition, generic Lipitor prices will eventually offer great savings to the uninsured and we’ll be keeping you updated as those new products come to market.
As reported in the The Inquisitr, due to generic competition, Lipitor prices are going to plummet in the near future, a relief not only to American patients but to U.S. doctors who often find their patients not taking their cholesterol medication due to cost. In discussing his patients, Dr. Thomas Haffey stated in the article:
They often make tough decisions about whether they eat or whether they take the medicines… Any time you can reduce the costs of quality health care, we certainly are happy and encouraged about that.
High drug prices in the United States lead to 10s of millions of Americans not taking needed medication each year. The end of Pfizer’s patent on Lipitor means that Americans will now be able to more easily afford Atorvastatin – the generic name for Lipitor – in local U.S. pharmacies. As of the end of this month, according The Missourian, a three-month supply of generic Lipitor will cost $30. And the Inquisitr article suggests that within six months generic Lipitor will be priced at $5 for a one-month supply.
To maintain market share, Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lipitor, may come up with some competitive sales strategies. For instance, Pfizer may cut costs for insured Americans to only $4/month co-pays. Pfizer is also pushing to market an over-the-counter version of Lipitor, however it is not yet approved for sale.
According to our research, U.S. prices for a 90-day supply of Lipitor 20mg at a New York City CVS costs $535.99, compared to $85.70 at the lowest cost online pharmacy approved by PharmacyChecker.com – a savings of 84%. So if you want the brand name drug you may be better off with low-cost online pharmacies. But, come the end of November, the best prices for generic Lipitor will soon be available in the good old USA.