There are potentially tens of thousands of dangerous pharmacy websites, sometimes referred to as “rogue online pharmacies,” polluting the Internet and endangering the health of consumers worldwide. There are a much smaller group of safe domestic online pharmacies. Then there are an even smaller group of safe international online pharmacies, ones that we have verified, that sell many medications at much lower cost. However, when Americans purchase from these international online pharmacies (often because they can’t afford medication domestically) and import safe and effective medications, they are under most circumstances violating U.S. laws, which poses a quandary for regulators, public health officials, and even some people working over at Big Pharma. What’s right and wrong? How do we get rid of the rogues without overreaching and endangering public health by stopping Americans from obtaining safe medication internationally over the Internet?

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

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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!

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Americans and others living in America used to see advertisements on Google for low-cost and safe international online pharmacies but now they don’t. That’s because, back in 2010, Google banned all non-U.S. online pharmacies, safe or otherwise, from its advertising platform that targets the United States and its people, a demographic urgently in need of lower drug prices! Why would they do that? Who does that benefit? Who does it hurt?

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

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Buying Xarelto Online Could Save Your Life If the Price is Too High Locally

Sorry to sound macabre, but you could die if you don’t fill and adhere to your healthcare practitioner’s prescription for Xarelto (ravaroxaban). It is an anticoagulant, a medication that lowers the rate of blood clots and thereby lowers the risk of stroke. Especially if you were diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, a condition characterized by problems associated with irregular heart rate or rhythm, it’s likely that you were prescribed an anticoagulant, such as Xarelto, Pradaxa, or Warfarin. I’m talking about Xarelto because it’s a relatively new brand name drug, which is not available as a generic, and some people who need it might not be able to afford it. It is not necessarily the best anticoagulant out there for you. Alternative medications are available and in use.

If you don’t have insurance or your insurance does not cover Xarelto, then you could face the out-of-pocket costs, which are about $1,176 for a three-month supply of the 20mg pill. If you can afford that then consider yourself lucky. For those who cannot, you could try a Xarelto patient assistance program. Alternatively, ask your doctor or other healthcare provider, and do your own research about another anti-coagulant, such as Pradaxa and Warfarin, that could work for you.

If you do not qualify for a patient assistance program, and your healthcare provider insists on Xarelto, there are verified international online pharmacies that sell brand name Xarelto at a very low price. In fact, the lowest cost international option runs you $2.08/pill, which is $187.20 for 90 tablets. That’s a savings of 84% or almost $1,000 over three months, $4,000 over the course of a year, versus the cash price at some U.S. pharmacies.

For those interested in where your medications come from: the Xarelto 20mg you buy in the U.S. is manufactured in Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. label. Our research shows that the lowest cost international option for Xarelto was manufactured in Germany by Bayer Pharma AG.

I started this post noting the mortality risks of not taking prescribed medications. I’d like to now return to this public health issue not in order to inflame or dramatize but to remind consumers and health officials about the public crisis of high drug prices. Strokes often cause death. Not taking your prescribed anticoagulant can increase your chance of having a stroke. Thirty-five million Americans don’t fill a prescription each year due to high prices; if Xarelto was one of these medicines, then its high price may have prevented people from obtaining it. Some of those people, unfortunately, may have had strokes and passed away. The point here is to not ignore your healthcare provider’s prescription and advice. Follow-up quickly and fill your prescription. If you can’t afford it, then pursue all available options.

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Is it legal to order medications online? Yes. If you live in the U.S., you can legally order medications online for mail order, such as from Walgreens or CVS. Is it legal to order medications from an online pharmacy located in a foreign country – to personally import it? Technically, no; but people who import small quantities of prescription medication for their own use, according to the FDA, are not prosecuted for doing so. There are a lot of nuances and quirky details when it comes to laws and regulations that apply to online pharmacies. Some laws are there to protect your health and safety; others seem more bent on protecting the profits of big drug companies – and there’s a lot in between. It’s complicated.

So 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

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25%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 2%, 1%?

A few years back, the FDA published the results of a survey from 2012 that showed 23% of Internet users purchase medication online. That number has been used by a variety of groups funded by pharmaceutical companies and U.S. pharmacy corporations, and apparently the Government Accountability Office, to imply that a quarter of the U.S. population is buying medication from dangerous rogue online pharmacy sites. The number is probably lower than 2%, which is still too high but it’s important that the public and our elected leaders face and tackle the online pharmacy problems that really exist, not fake ones that distort public perception and serve entrenched business interests…and lead to fewer Americans getting medicines they need.

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
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What does the data actually show about the safety of buying medication online? Is it really dangerous to buy lower cost medication from a pharmacy in another country over the Internet? Do drug companies fund research in this area?

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(more…)

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John Horton, the founder of LegitScript, a company which seems bent on preventing Americans from ordering affordable medication from outside the U.S., recently attempted to discredit PharmacyChecker.com with a false and misleading blog post. This is an old tactic of Mr. Horton. Why does he do this? At least two reasons come to mind: PharmacyChecker.com publishes information that helps Americans find safe and affordable medication from licensed foreign pharmacies and we have publicly exposed Horton’s seemingly unethical business practices.

LegitScript is allied with large pharmaceutical companies and U.S. chain pharmacies, entrenched business interests that lose money when Americans buy less expensive prescription medication outside the U.S.

Mr. Horton’s recent blog post discussed charges against Titilayo Akintomide Akinyoyenu, a pharmacist in Washington D.C. From 2005 to 2010, Mr. Akinyoyenu is alleged to have filled orders from his pharmacy for controlled medications pursuant to prescriptions written by a licensed doctor that were invalid because they were based on online questionnaires rather than a face-to-face examination. His pharmacy was licensed in the District of Columbia and is registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency to sell controlled medicines. He operated an online pharmacy, apexonlinepharmacy.com,which was associated with his licensed pharmacy. PharmacyChecker.com verified the licenses and DEA registration of Mr. Akinyoyenu’s pharmacy, and checked that the online pharmacy required a valid prescription and met other good online pharmacy practice standards, permitting his online pharmacy to be approved in the PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program until August 31, 2010.

Despite the fact that apexonlinepharmacy.com is not a PharmacyChecker-approved online pharmacy and has not been for about five years, Mr. Horton saw an angle in the allegations against Mr. Akinyoyenu to take a shot at PharmacyChecker and give his blog post the false and misleading title “Another PharmacyChecker Approved Internet Pharmacy Gets Indicted.” The indictment is not of the pharmacy, but of Mr. Akenyoyenu himself and it makes no mention of PharmacyChecker. (more…)

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Americans have been ordering medication over the Internet from foreign pharmacies for about 15 years. How many reported deaths or serious adverse reactions would you guess have been associated with purchases from international online pharmacies that require a prescription? Zero. Sadly, rogue online pharmacies, domestic and foreign, have contributed to injury and even death.

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(more…)

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Continuing our 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 a section a week of our report called Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation, and Public Health. This week we look at the reasons why Americans look online to buy medication:

High U.S. drug prices are one of the main reasons that Americans go online to buy medication. As stated previously, according to the CDC, about five million Americans buy medication internationally each year due to high domestic drug prices. The CDC’s figures and others identified below show that over the past 15 years, tens of millions of Americans have purchased medication from outside the U.S. using online pharmacies to save money or because they could not afford the prices at their local pharmacies. Fifty million Americans between the ages of 18 to 64 did not fill a prescription in 2012 due to cost, up from 29 million in 2001. The data demonstrates that Americans need international online pharmacies due to a public health crisis of high domestic drug prices.

There are other reasons Americans go online to buy medication besides cost. Online pharmacies offer convenience and anonymity. For some consumers with mobility problems or for those who live in rural locations, ordering online and receiving medication by mail can be very helpful. Others may feel embarrassed about their medical conditions, which are sometimes unintentionally disclosed at their local pharmacy counters, preferring to order privately online.

Unfortunately, some Americans go online seeking medication without first obtaining a prescription from their healthcare providers. Many such people should not be judged. Americans who are uninsured may be unable to afford the medical care necessary to get a prescription and shop from online pharmacies that do not require one. Others just don’t want the “hassle” of going to the doctor and getting a prescription. There are obvious and inherent dangers in taking certain medications without first consulting with a licensed prescriber. Additionally, online pharmacies, foreign and domestic, that do not require a prescription are more likely to sell falsified and substandard medication and not ship medication safely.

Growing numbers of insured Americans in the coming years, a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will lead to a decline in medications ordered online without a prescription. However, many newly insured will find that their prescribed medications are not covered by their plans and are too expensive to pay for out-of-pocket at a U.S. pharmacy. For some, international online pharmacies are the only route to obtaining needed medication.

Finally, some Americans looking to obtain prescription narcotics without a prescription turn to the Internet, but the prevalence of such purchases are a small part of America’s prescription abuse problem. Still, the most serious negative health consequences related to prescription drugs bought over the Internet are from controlled drugs purchased without a valid prescription. The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, which largely banned online prescribing for controlled substances, was named after 18 year-old Ryan Haight who purchased prescription narcotics from an online pharmacy based in Oklahoma without a valid prescription and died from an overdose.

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