As we move out of 2015 and into 2016 with a strong wave of hostility rising throughout the country about high drug prices, what I’m about to report may seem incongruous. Fewer Americans seem to be buying lower cost medications from other countries. For the past few years, largely based on data from the CDC in 2013, I’ve published the number five million as the approximate number of Americans who, due to high drug prices, import medication annually for personal use. But a newer CDC report published in 2015 (that I recently came across) puts that number closer to four million, a 20% decrease.
If drug prices are going up, and Americans are fed up with prescription costs, wouldn’t you expect more people to be buying lower cost medications from outside the country? With fewer Americans buying medication internationally, potentially one million, how many of them are simply not taking prescribed medication? Are our most trusted authorities scaring Americans away from obtaining lower cost medications from other countries, or has affordable access improved over the past few years?
Tagged with: Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, CDC, Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, Drug Importation, Drug Prices, FDA, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Online Pharmacies, Partnership for Safe Medicines, Patent Cliff, Seroquel, United States
I’m talking about super-sized supermarket Publix, which operates over 1000 stores throughout the Southeastern U.S. Sure, it’s not the only superstore to offer this but I happened to come across its Free Medication Program while researching drug prices today: and I want to talk about it.
There’s a lot of yelling and screaming and downright hostility toward the pharmaceutical industry (much of it warranted), including against generic drug companies, who are under scrutiny because some old generics have increased in price by thousands of percent. So here’s a little relief…free medication.
The list is not long but the following drugs are free at Publix pharmacies: Amlodipine, Lisinopril, and Metformin. Bring your script and walk out with a 90 day supply free. If you’re prescribed a 14-day antibiotic treatment of Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim, Ciprofloxacin (but not its XR version) and Penicillin VK – free at Public Pharmacies.
Now most of us don’t live near a Publix. Very low cost and free drug programs at U.S. retailers and chain pharmacies were launched almost a decade ago when Walmart announced its $4 prescription drug programs. The programs are still around and a report is long overdue about them. I promise to bring you a broader list of these free medication programs in the New Year.
Why would a pharmacy offer medications for free? If you’re looking for a full explanation, here’s some good journalism in Toledo’s The Blaze from 2006. It has something to do with the medication being a “loss leader” for the company. Then again, who cares – the meds are free.
Tagged with: affordable prescriptions, Amlopidine, Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Ciprofloxacin, Drug Prices, Lisinopril, local pharmacies, Metformin, Penicillin VK, Publix, retail pharmacies, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim, United States
Americans should know about the heat coming down against the pharmaceutical industry from certain members of Congress in an effort to combat the public health crisis of high drug prices. This week, nine lawmakers from the House of Representatives announced the formation of a new group called the Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force. Its goals are clear, to lower cost barriers to life saving medication and to demand greater transparency about drug cost decisions made by the pharmaceutical industry.
Two pertinent facts were continually raised. One, high drug prices are the No. 1 healthcare issue in America. Two, medication prices are much lower in other countries, about 50% lower in the UK.
To announce the task force, a press conference was led by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and included speeches by Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-MI), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). We wrote about Rep. Cummings’ efforts a couple of weeks back as Congressman Cummings noted PharmacyChecker.com as a supporter of the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015. I also want to note thank Congresswoman DeLauro for recently becoming a co-sponsor of the Personal Drug Importation Fairness Act of 2015.
The speakers have supported a variety of solutions to lowering drug prices, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies; ending “pay-for-delay,” a practice sometimes described as payoffs by brand drug patent holders to generic drug companies to that the latter will postpone launching a lower cost generic; reforming prescription drug importation laws to make it easier to access lower cost medications from other countries; and greater oversight into pharmaceutical industry pricing practices.
Some highlighted quotes or phrases:
- “If the people are not able to afford their prescriptions that means they suffer and in some instances they die.” Rep. Cummings.
- McDermott’s take: “The pharmaceutical companies have got the Congress in the palm of their hand and they will not let us go.”
- The problem of high drug prices was referred to as an “emergency situation” by Rep. Sander Levin.
It’s no secret that I support much of this agenda. But what is needed is bipartisanship, and I’m waiting for these leaders, as part of their noble effort, to consider looking critically at the Obama administration’s record on personal drug importation and online pharmacies. Candidate Obama in 2007 supported reforming the law to make it easier for Americans to import lower cost medication. Unfortunately, in its efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act, which I supported, the Obama administration made a deal with big pharma to change course and dump drug importation legal reform in exchange for pharma’s support for Obamacare and agreement to new discounts on Medicare Part D medications through the coverage gap (the “Donut hole”).
On that final note, the Obama administration, though the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has announced a forum on drug prices to be held on November 20th. Maybe we’ll learn that the Obama administration’s position on prescription drug importation has returned to one more in line with most Americans. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
(You can view the complete press conference below)
Members of the newly formed Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force will hold a press conference announcing meaningful action to combat the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals. Who: Reps. Cummings, Doggett, McDermott, DeLauro, Schakowsky, and Welch.
Tagged with: Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force, Congress, David Cicilline, Drug Importation, Elijah Cummings, generic drugs, Jan Schakowsky, Jim McDermott, Marcy Kaptur, Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation Fairness Act, Peter Welch, Rosa DeLauro, Sander Levin, United States
Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force Press Conference – Nov 4, 2015
As you’ll discover below, the Obama administration’s policies to combat the manufacture and sale of counterfeit medications have a lot to do with furthering the agenda of the pharmaceutical industry in discouraging and curtailing online access by Americans to safe and affordable medication. Remember “The Deal” between the Obama administration and Big Pharma, in the form of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in which the Obama administration agreed to abandon supporting drug importation legal reform to lower drug prices for Americans if PhRMA would support Obamacare? I’ve always wondered how far that deal went.
This week, in our continuing quest to get the truth out and for our elected leaders in Congress to take bold action to protect online access to safe and affordable medication, we’re publishing the next section of our report called Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation, and Public Health…
Tagged with: Congress, CSIP, GoodRx, intellectual, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, IPEC, Obama Administration, rogue online pharmacies, safe online pharmacies, United States
Well, here we go again, another bill that would formally legalize a practice that has been going on for decades: Americans importing meds from Canadian pharmacies, at the very least to cut down on their drug bills, and in some cases even to afford life-saving medicines. Sorry to sound cynical, but I’ve seen these bills before and Big Pharma is always behind their failure – but what about this time?
The bill, H.R. 2228, was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) barely a week ago and co-sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and is entitled “Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015.” It seems to mirror legislation in the Senate, S. 122, introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which has the same title.
The bills are focused on Canadian pharmacies only, not the wider landscape of international online pharmacies, which are often based in Canada: ones that millions of Americans have benefited from for over a decade. If H.R. 2228 passes, the FDA would be required to publish a list of approved Canadian pharmacies from which Americans could legally import, for personal use, non-controlled, non-biologic, and non-temperature sensitive, prescription medications. That would include the majority of maintenance prescription drugs that Americans are currently importing for personal use.
I support this bill 100%. Even though our program is open to safe and licensed pharmacies in other countries, not just ones in Canada and the U.S., the new bill moves the public policy and economic justice needle in the right direction. The practice of international pharmacy began with Americans crossing the border to buy lower cost medications in Canada and then, with the advent of the Internet, buying through mail order. Current law, technically, bans the practice and, unjustly, views it as a criminal act – even though no one has been prosecuted for it. The new bill in the House and Senate would lift the unethical ban on buying lower cost medications for their own use from Canada. Amen and Word Up to that!
So head on over to RxRights.org to contact your elected representatives and let them know you want them to vote for the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015!
Tagged with: affordable prescriptions, Big Pharma, Canadian pharmacies, H.R. 2228, House of Representatives, legalizing personal drug importation, personal drug importation, RxRights.org, S.122, Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015, Senate, United States