PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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The Walgreens UK Pharmacy Connection and Importation

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…)

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Finding the Lowest Drug Prices is a Real Headache – the Story of Rizatriptan

Woman with Migraine
Migraine” by Sasha Wolff from Grand Rapids – Can’t Concentrate: 14/365. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Dr. David Belk, a practicing physician in California, healthcare cost research guru and Huffington Post blogger, recently wrote a story about the huge difference in price faced by one of his patients when trying to fill a prescription for the migraine medication called Maxalt (rizatriptan). Since my daughter suffers from migraines, I know how debilitating migraine headache can be and how important it is to have the medication when you need it.

Essentially, Dr. Belk discovered that Walgreens, a big chain pharmacy, was charging much more money than another pharmacy – in this case Costco. The price for the generic at Walgreens without insurance was $1,490 for 40 pills, or $37 a pill, and even with insurance the price was almost $17 dollars a pill. But Dr. Belk’s patient ended up getting the medication at Costco for $1.03 per pill!!

Now ordinarily here’s where we’d write about how you might consider PharmacyChecker- verified international online pharmacies to purchase Maxalt or rizatriptin if you don’t have insurance – but you would not need to. According to Dr. Belk’s post, Costco’s price was the cash price! None of the online pharmacies in our program sell it for just over a buck a pill. It’s the cheapest in the U.S.A.!

A few months back, Tod Cooperman, MD, founder of PharmacyChecker.com was on Fox and Friends talking about another big chain pharmacy, one accused of overcharging consumers for generic medications. It seems that the problem is not just Big Pharma but Big Pharmacy.

Drug prices these days seem to be all over the place. The moral of this story: shop around as much as possible and don’t trust your friendly neighborhood chain pharmacy or assume that international online pharmacies are cheapest. I know it’s enough to give you a headache, even a migraine, but finding the lowest drug prices will help lessen the pain.

 

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The Daraprim Drama: Prices Keep Going Up in the U.S. AND at Foreign Online Pharmacies

Contrary to the belief of the pharmaceutical industry and their minions, PharmacyChecker.com is not a champion of foreign online pharmacies, even the safest ones.  They just charge a lot less for medication, which helps American consumers stay healthy and avoid bankruptcy. But they are, like their U.S. pharmacy counterparts, just businesses.

Drug prices up up up

And that brings us back to our blog topic from last week, which was Daraprim, the parasite-fighting drug that, in the blink of an eye, went from $13.50/pill to $750/pill in the U.S. a few weeks back. We wrote what seemed impossible: a 99.8% international pharmacy savings on a medication. When we published that post, the price of Daraprim, manufactured and marketed by GlaxoSmithKline in Europe, was $1.53 a pill at the lowest cost international online pharmacy in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program. Well, those international online pharmacies jacked their prices, too…kind of.

As PharmacyChecker founder Tod Cooperman, MD, was writing an article for the Huffington Post about Daraprim, prescription drug importation and overall drug affordability problems, we discovered that the online price of Daraprim 25mg jumped from $1.53 a pill to $6 bucks! An increase of 292%.

It was reported that the villain of this whole story, the head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that owns Daraprim in the U.S., was planning on lowering the price of Daraprim, which appeared to be an almost necessary public relations move. I called chain pharmacy giant Walgreens today expecting that the price would be less than $750 but found out that the price was actually $796/pill.

So the potential international drug price savings on Daraprim has plummeted from 99.8% to 99.25% A little Rx irony to end our week here at PharmacyChecker.com.

 

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