The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) says that foreign pharmacies who sell to Americans over the Internet, due to lack of regulation and counterfeit drugs, are dangerous. I have one question: Would that include their own pharmacies in the United Kingdom? After all, Internet pharmacy in the UK is regulated.
The NACDS is not an objective observer on this issue. As I see it, it is in cahoots with Big Pharma in sowing what is blatant misinformation about prescription drug importation and international online pharmacies. See myths and facts. For big U.S. pharmacy chains, lower prices from international pharmacies are a commercial threat.
One of NACDS’s principal members is most commonly referred to as Walgreens, but you should start calling it by the name of its main corporation, Walgreens-Boots Alliance. Why? In the United Kingdom, Boots has been in the pharmaceutical business for 165 years and is that country’s largest distributor of pharmacy products. You can bet that Walgreens-Boots is selling the same medication in the UK at a much lower cost than here in America.
For example, Januvia 100mg (sitagliptin), which treats type 2 diabetes, costs $1508.99 for 90 pills at Walgreens in Brooklyn (I just called). Compare that to $273.60, the price available online from a UK pharmacy, one verified by PharmacyChecker.com. That UK pharmacy is a lifeline of affordable medication to an uninsured American—of which there are still around 28 million—who is prescribed Januvia. (By the way, the “American” Januvia sold in Walgreens is made in the UK). (more…)
Tagged with: boots, NACDS, UK, walgreens
Martin Shkreli, founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Not that cool.
It’s no secret that Americans are unhappy with Big Pharma. Pharmaceutical companies regularly rank as one of the least loved industries, right up there (or down there) with Big Oil and Big Government. And while this has usually been expressed as contempt towards the industry as a whole, recently the negative spotlight is shining brightly on one man: Martin Shkreli, hedge fund investor and drug company entrepreneur.
Soon after his company Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the marketing rights to the drug Daraprim, Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750.00 per pill in the U.S. market where Turing has exclusive marketing rights. But that only affects America! Thankfully, consumers can purchase Daraprim, marketed by GlaxoSmithKline in the UK, from a verified international online pharmacy for as low as only $1.53 per pill. A mere savings of 99.8%.
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a disease that results from infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. This parasite is very common (in fact it’s been estimated that 22% of U.S. population have been exposed to it and it usually infects people who have eaten undercooked meat, raw vegetables, or have handled cat feces. In healthy people it usually only causes flu-like systems. However this disease can cause severe complications in people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, including brain lesions and seizures. The disease can also be very harmful to women who are pregnant, leading to a stillborn child or a child born with birth defects.
It’s not rare for medications that treat a rare disease or a small patient population to be expensive. Moreover, it’s understandable that pharmaceutical companies want to recoup the extensive costs of developing a drug and make a profit, although Big Pharma’s lust for profits appears insatiable. But let’s take a deep breath…Daraprim is not some new wonder drug. It was originally developed and marketed by Burroughs Wellcome and patented back in 1953 (the patent expired in the 70s). A relatively inexpensive drug, it was long manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, until that company sold the U.S. marketing rights to CorePharma in 2010. Impax Laboratories later bought CorePharma, and turned around and sold the rights to the drug to Turing.
At that point Mr. Shkreli and our friends at Turing decided to change how Daraprim was distributed. Hospitals, instead of going to a wholesaler, now had to order from Turing’s “Daraprim Direct” program. Patients, instead of going to their neighborhood pharmacy had to order from Walgreen’s Specialty Pharmacy. And since there is no approved generic in the United States, patients who need Daraprim face monopoly pricing, with no competition to Turing on the horizon. Many people of all political stripes seem to be enraged over price gouging like this, because it seems like they’re getting the worst of corporate monopoly and government protectionism.
In order to get this medication, American consumers may need to look across the pond. As mentioned above, GlaxoSmithKline may have sold their U.S. marketing rights to Daraprim in 2010 but not in many countries around the world, such as England, where it’s sold for pennies to the pill!
It only seems fair, not to mention in the interest of public health, that an important drug like this, that’s listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, should not be one subject to the twisted reality and bizarre rationalizing of hedge fund managers.
Tagged with: Daraprim, GlaxoSmithKline, Martin Shkreli, toxoplasmosis, Turing Pharmaceuticals, UK
Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed S. 968, Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, also known as the Protect IP Act. Its passage represents a real threat to Americans’ access to safe and affordable medications online and we hope that as the bill makes its way through the legislative process it will be amended appropriately.
Essentially, the bill will make it easier to crackdown on rogue pharmacy sites selling fake meds and not requiring a prescription, which is great; however, it will also encourage actions to block Americans’ access to reputable and affordable non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell genuine medication and require a prescription, which are a lifeline for uninsured Americans. That’s because of Section 5, which includes in its definition of “infringing sites” online pharmacies that sell medications to Americans that are not manufactured in a facility approved by the FDA. (more…)
Tagged with: Americans, Australia, Canada, cloture, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eli Lily, European Union, fake meds, FDA, First Amendment, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, legislation, Merck, Online Pharmacies, Pfizer, S.968, Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Wyden, The Protect Intellectual Property Act, UK, United States