PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Election Day Note: Advocate for Online Access to Affordable Medicine

Protect your RxRightsNo matter how you vote today, or which party you like (if one at all), you may have ended up on this blog because you’re tired of high drug prices or struggling to afford medications you need. PharmacyChecker.com advocates for maximizing consumer-access to the lowest cost, safe and effective medications. We believe that it’s completely unacceptable and unnecessary for tens of millions of Americans to skip filling prescriptions each year because of cost. High drug prices in America are a public health crisis.

Access to affordable medication is a global public health priority and many people view it as a human right. According to the World Health Organization, ten million deaths could be prevented globally by improving access to safe and affordable medication. We strongly believe that much more can and should be done at the global level to help citizens of developing countries obtain life-saving medicines.

Our advocacy focus is – not surprisingly – “online access” to lower-cost medications, which requires an open and free Internet through which consumers can buy medication from safe international online pharmacies. We are a member of the RxRights.org coalition, which focusses on safe personal drug importation through verified international online pharmacies. We strongly encourage you to join them. They have a following of almost 85,000 Americans. Joining is free and for those of you activist-types it could be fun.

There are multinational pharmaceutical corporate forces aligned with willing politicians who accept their campaign contributions to prevent you from obtaining safe lower cost medications from outside the U.S.  Pushing back and promoting online access to safe and affordable medication is not a liberal or conservative effort. It’s a big tent, non-partisan issue that draws consumers from all sides of the political fence who are tired of having to pay the world’s highest drug prices.

So, as long as you’re done voting, take this time to check out RxRights and stand up for more affordable medications!

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Fight the Tyranny of High Prescription Drug Prices this 4th of July

U.S. flag and pillAs we approach July 4th, a day to celebrate freedom in America, I urge you to stand up for your freedom to access safe and affordable medication!! Let’s face it: the global drug companies – big Pharma – would rather you pay higher prices for their medications because it makes them more money. In its infinite pandering to big Pharma, Congress included language in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 (FDASIA) – an otherwise pretty useful drug safety bill – expanding the authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to destroy safe, personally imported medications. In the spirit of independence – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – take this time to send a message to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking that she take the necessary actions to protect your prescription drug orders, ones ordered from safe international online pharmacies.

Thanks to RxRights.org for leading the charge on this effort!

The onerous language under discussion is found in Section 708 of FDASIA, which allows the FDA to destroy medication orders valued at $2500 or less that are refused import. The medications subject to refusal and destruction are those deemed “adulterated, misbranded or counterfeit.” Those words seem pretty scary but don’t be fooled. Unlike an adulterated or counterfeit drug, an imported ‘misbranded’ drug can be the same, safe and effective medication sold in a U.S. pharmacy but with a slightly different label.  Seizing and destroying a person’s safe prescription drug order is immoral, anti-American, and dangerous to that person’s health.

There’s a catch in the law, which actually invokes the Spirit of 1776. Before Section 708 goes into effect, the HHS Secretary shall draft proposed regulations to provide consumers with due process to “challenge the decision to destroy the drug.” That means Americans should have an opportunity when their medication orders are seized to tell the government “don’t destroy my safe prescription drug order.”  As the agency under HHS tasked with regulating the nation’s drug supply, it’s the FDA that leads the government in this process. FDA’s proposed regulations, which are open for public comment, were drafted and published in early May.  While they fail to provide what the law requires – “appropriate due process” – I believe they leave the door open to amend what they have proposed. This weekend I’ll be working to submit PharmacyChecker.com’s public comments to try and assist (persuade?) the FDA to issue a more consumer-friendly final regulation that protects your access to safe and affordable imported medication.

I invoke the spirits of our Founding Fathers to guide us in this fight for independence from the tyranny of high drug prices.

Happy Fourth of July!

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International Online Pharmacy Report for 2013: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This article summarizes good things and bad that are happening online with drug prices and savings, economics, legislation, politics, and even ethics that relate to access by Americans to more affordable medication offered by safe international online pharmacies. If you’re a consumer – especially an American consumer facing high drug costs – you should read this. When you’re done (or even right now!) we recommend joining RxRights to help play a role in making medication more affordable for all Americans.

Next year, we’re planning to focus more attention on local Americans pharmacies: what they’re doing right, wrong, and in between, and how you can save and take advantage of their in-store opportunities to improve your health! But for now, the international online pharmacy report…

The Good

The money Americans could save on brand name drugs by shopping at safe international online pharmacies continued to increase in 2013. In 2011 , we reported potential savings of 80%, then a mind-boggling 85% in 2012, and now 87.6% in 2013! Savings have proliferated because America’s trading partners, such as Australia, Canada, the states of the European Union, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, generally, have kept brand drug prices stable, whereas in America they increased by an estimated 13% last year.

The pricing data referred to above is from our prescription drug price savings research released this past September. In that report we looked at popular prescription drugs that are not always covered by health insurance plans, including new plans offered as a result of Obamacare. An extreme example of savings is on the drug Abilify 10 mg, a medication prescribed for depression; $9,007.08 could be saved annually by purchasing the drug from the lowest-cost online pharmacy verified by PharmacyChecker.com compared with a retail pharmacy in New York City.  A more common example of potential annual savings from international pharmacies is the $3,935.28 savings on Spiriva Handihaler 18 mcg. Drug prices are out of control in the U.S., especially for those with no domestic generic alternative, and access to international online pharmacies is as urgent as ever.

It would, of course, be better if Americans could find more reasonable prices on brand name drugs at their local pharmacies.

(more…)

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RxRights Launches Petition Opposing New Pharmacy Domain

Our friends at RxRights have launched a petition to oppose the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) bid to control .pharmacy (dot pharmacy) – a new Internet domain that should be open to all reputable and safe online pharmacies, not just the ones that drug companies want you to use. Unfortunately, NABP has a history of discouraging Americans from using safe and affordable online pharmacies based in other countries and also taking money from drug companies to operate Internet pharmacy programs. For millions of Americans access to safe international online pharmacies is the only way to afford necessary medication. The bottom line is that NABP wants to block safe international online pharmacy from obtaining a website ending in .pharmacy, which is anti-competitive and anti-consumer. Don’t let them do it!!

Read why an NABP-controlled “.pharmacy” would harm millions of Americans.

Sign the RxRights petition here.

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High Drug Prices Disproportionately Causing African-Americans to Cut Back on Medication

The latest edition of NPR’s ongoing series, The View From Black America, focuses on Americans who live within fear of financial disaster due to high drug costs. In fact, one in four African-Americans struggle to afford medication, according to a national poll conducted by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Mike Jackson is one of the millions of Americans whose response to high drug prices was to scale back his medication (in his case, insulin). Mr. Jackson stated, “Instead of taking 60 units twice a day, I was taking 30 units twice a day….The idea behind that was if I watched what I would eat and then stay with the 30 units — I would keep my blood sugar down enough that hopefully it would not be much of a problem.” His medication cost almost $500 per month.

Mr. Jackson ended up with numbness in his foot and toes, and nerve damage in his eyes, sure signs that his diabetes had gone out of control. A trip to the ophthalmologist only added to his medical bills.

Ashley Liggins had to choose whether to purchase food, gas, or medication to control her blood pressure. When the choice comes between medicine and other essentials, like food for your family, sometimes expensive medicine may be the first to go. And this this was the decision made by Ms. Liggins, leading her to reduce doses and borrow pills from her mother.

We will continue to document cases of Americans getting sicker due to high drug prices. To take action on bringing down drug prices consider joining RxRights.org.

To listen to the NPR segment, click here.

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