So You Want to Buy Cheap Medicine From an Actual Canadian Pharmacy, Here’s The Deal…

(Click here to skip the explanations and view the steps to finding a Canadian online pharmacy)

If you’ve seen one of the latest FDA press releases regarding Canadian pharmacies, you might be a little confused on how to find one. The FDA seems to acknowledge that there are legitimate – and therefore safe – Canadian pharmacies accessible online. Here’s what they say (with one word italicized by us):

“Don’t order medicines from web sites that claim to be Canadian pharmacies. Most are not legitimate pharmacies, and the drugs they supply are illegal and potentially dangerous.

Claiming to be a Canadian pharmacy is one of the hallmarks of Internet sites that sell illegal prescription drugs which, in many cases, are not made in Canada at all, but in a number of other countries. (Even if an online Canadian pharmacy is legitimate, in general, U.S. citizens cannot legally import prescription drugs from other countries. But that’s a separate issue. We’re talking here about fraud).”

The FDA’s focus on protecting you from online pharmacy fraud is commendable because that’s where the real health and safety threats reside. Since they don’t tell you how to find a legitimate, real Canadian pharmacy, we’re providing you with facts and guidance to help you make the right decisions for your health and prescription savings.  Let’s remember, brand name medications sold in Canada and other non-U.S. pharmacies are often astronomically cheaper than ones here at home. (more…)

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UPDATE: the video showing Senator’s Snowe’s floor remarks is no longer available. Please consult the congressional record for this date to read Senator Snowe’s full remarks.

In support of Senator John McCain’s amendment to facilitate safe personal drug importation from credentialed online pharmacies, Senator Olympia Snowe spoke comprehensively, passionately and honestly about the issue. Though the amendment did not pass, Americans interested in online pharmacies and drug affordability should be aware of some of Ms. Snowe’s most pertinent points in support of personal drug importation. The full senate floor presentation is available for viewing as well.

  1. “Americans are facing tremendous increases in prescription drug prices for far too long and I think it’s at a point in which Congress should address this issue,” said Senator Snowe.In 2010 AARP found that retail prices for the most popular brand name drugs increased 41.5% while the consumer price index rose just 13%. In other words the cost of prescription drugs rose more than three times as much as the inflation rate.”
  2.  Senator Snowe wisely reminded her colleagues that most of “America’s” drug products are already manufactured overseas. Senator Snowe points out that the very medications America consumes come from manufacturing facilities in over 50 countries and “not all of those facilities are even inspected….”
  3. We need a more competitive pharmaceutical market. Senator Snowe points out (by quoting a former Pfizer CEO) that more competition from imported medication will lead to lower prices, higher quality products, and more innovation.
  4. The amendment is far more modest than previous drug importation bills and only calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make a list of approved online pharmacies for personal drug importation but it would not allow for greater “wholesale” drug importation. PharmacyChecker.com already provides such a list that consumers can freely access. Ironically, while Senator Snowe didn’t mention it, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, actually published such a list when she was governor of Kansas for a state drug importation program.

 For those interested in learning more about why personal drug importation should be made more available to Americans please watch Senator Snowe’s floor remarks.


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RxRights.org Opposition to “Stop Online Piracy Act” Featured On CBS Florida Affiliate

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), currently before Congress, threatens online access to safe and affordable medication through reputable international online pharmacies. A CBS-Fort Myers report gives a human face to this issue by highlighting a Floridian senior, Mary Miller, who is able to afford her medication only because of a Canadian online pharmacy. If SOPA passes, Ms. Miller may lose access to that Canadian online pharmacy. The CBS report features RxRights.org as the lead organization helping Americans rally to contact their elected officials to oppose SOPA.

Stopping rogue sites in many areas, such as those sites that steal and re-sell copyrighted movies and music, sell knockoffs of designer handbags and clothes, and especially those that sell dangerous or fake medication is the right idea. But a bill that could takedown many websites that are exercising the rights of free speech, publishing music and movies legally, and especially websites selling safe and affordable medication, is a bill that should be abandoned post-haste.

RxRights.org should be loudly applauded for its work on behalf of Americans who are struggling to afford medication by educating Americans about SOPA and how it could block access to affordable prescription medication.

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Last week, Roger Bate, an economist and expert in counterfeit drugs with the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an article called “Google’s Ad Freedom Wrongly Curtailed.” Bate’s piece shows how banning safe foreign online pharmacies from advertising on Google and elsewhere is not only unethical but will lead to sub-optimal health outcomes. As we wrote at the end of August, the non-prosecution agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Google, in which the search engine was fined $500 million for allowing rouge Canadian sites to advertise controlled substances, is good because it forces Google to now block dangerous rogue online pharmacies from advertising. At the same time, however, it’s bad because it appears to prevent Google from allowing safe and affordable Canadian-based online pharmacies form advertising as well.

The DOJ/Google settlement appears to reflect the false rhetoric espoused by the U.S. government and pharmaceutical industry that only U.S. online pharmacies can be safe. Bate knows this is not true based on his own empirical studies, which found that properly credentialed non-U.S. online pharmacies sell genuine medication at a lower cost and require a prescription.  By blocking safe Canadian pharmacies from advertising to Americans on Google, it is more difficult for needy Americans to find them. Bate writes:

Google’s current policy removes the potentially lethal sellers, but by disallowing credentialed foreign sites from advertising it will harm public health. The tens of millions of uninsured Americans who cannot afford their drugs will go online to circumvent this obstruction. If they are unaware of pharmacychecker.com’s credentialing, they will play Russian roulette and may end up buying a lethal product.

With media outlets and politicians inundated with a voracious pharmaceutical industry public relations assault that seeks to paint all non-U.S. online pharmacies as rogue, the victim here is the American seeking affordable medication online because he or she can’t afford it here at home. Bate wrote: “What is surprising is that independent groups, like Consumer Reports and AARP, have bought into this industry rhetoric or have failed to properly explain to their members that foreign doesn’t necessarily mean dangerous.” (more…)

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CNN Report on Americans’ Search For Affordable Medication Spreads Confusion Not Clarity

CNN.com recently aired a video entitled Phony meds flooding U.S, which addressed a variety of dangers related to buying prescription drugs in Mexico, on the streets of Los Angeles, from unauthorized sources and from certain online pharmacies. While warning consumers about the dangers of bad medicine and fraudulent practices is good, the CNN piece, unfortunately, may confuse consumers about what the real threats are. With 120 million American consumers struggling to afford their medication, many are understandably looking for alternatives to the prohibitive costs of brand name drugs in the U.S. We believe our Consumer Guide, which does not recommend Mexican pharmacies, gives the best information on how to save money safely on your prescriptions, a summary of which you can find here.

Whether traveling to Mexico or ordering from international online pharmacies, Americans deserve to be properly informed and this CNN piece highlights how the message to consumers is often misleading, unclear and inaccurate.

The segment begins at a border crossing between Tijuana and southern California. CNN reports, “Everyday Americans flock across the border to buy deeply discounted prescription drugs”. Several Americans interviewed in the piece say they can get cheaper medications at Mexican pharmacies, at 50% off or more, and that it works for them. (more…)

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A new post on RxRights.org explains how the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)’s Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program wrongly misleads consumers and the media by tagging all non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell to Americans as “rogue.” Essentially, that program’s list includes dangerous rogue online pharmacies along with reputable online pharmacies that meet high standards of safety but are simply not based in the United States. American consumers should expect more from pharmacy regulatory authorities and deserve to be properly informed. By adding properly verified international online pharmacies to the list, NABP scares Americans away from safe and affordable sources of medication. RxRight.org alerts the public that NABP’s program was sponsored with a grant from the drug giant Pfizer.

The post also deconstructs the ridiculous notion that only “FDA-approved” drugs are safe.  It explains that the same exact drug purchased from a Canadian pharmacy (or any non-U.S. pharmacy) that is sold in the United States is “Not FDA-approved.” How can that be if it’s the same drug? There are many reasons, but one primary reason is labeling. FDA-approved drugs include approval of the drug’s specific labeling. That means that virtually all drugs sold in Canada that are compositionally identical to those sold in the United States are not “FDA-approved” because their labeling is different (such as including information in French and English), but of course they are equally as safe.

PharmacyChecker.com applauds RxRights.org for exposing misinformation campaigns sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry meant to scare Americans away from safe and affordable online pharmacies, wrongly inform the media, and shape our nation’s laws and regulations.

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Drug Importation Bill Introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe

Last May, we reported that AARP honored Senator Olympia Snowe (R- Maine) for her ongoing advocacy of policies and initiatives that seek to improve the lives of Americans age 50-plus. The award specifically mentioned her efforts to make safe drug importation legal and more available to help more Americans afford their medication. In our post on this recognition, we predicted that the issue of access to safe drugs would persist in the aftermath of the new healthcare legislation, and we’re now happy to announce that last week Senator Snowe put legalizing drug importation back on the Senate’s agenda.

Senator Snowe has introduced legislation that would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic act to facilitate drug importation that would effectively lower prescription drug prices. Additionally, the bill would increase U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections of international manufacturing plants. S. 319, the proposed Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2011, is similar to Senator Snowe’s co-sponsored bill from 2009, also known as the Dorgan Amendment. For more information on the Senator’s past support for personal drug importation, see our post Canadian Pharmacies and Personal Drug Importation Play Critical Role in Greater Healthcare Benefits for Americans. (more…)

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Rogue Online Pharmacies Sued By Google: What Consumers Need to Know

On September 21st, 2010, Google filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against over 50 defendants for “violating policies and circumventing technological measures“. This action is part of a series of efforts by Google to prevent rogue online pharmacies from advertising in its search marketing program called adWords.

Google’s filing makes it clear that, despite extensive verification procedures, automated keyword blocking, and a dramatic change of ad policies, some illicit rogue sites still manage to bypass Google’s rules. The lawsuit demonstrates that Google is its own final gatekeeper for websites placing ads using pharmaceutical and pharmacy terms, not third party online pharmacy verification companies it uses to help identify online pharmacies that meet safe standards. It also shows that while PharmacyChecker.com worked with Google, and as the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) program does now, unapproved, rogue pharmacies were and are able to find a way to advertise on Google. In viewing its search marketing platform, we find that Google instituted a technical solution to block rogues back in late January 2010, which has proven quite effective, although apparently, according to Google, not perfect. (more…)

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New AARP Report Shows Dramatic Brand Name Drug Price Hikes

AARP, the leading advocacy group for America’s seniors, released a new study confirming that brand name drug prices were way up – 8.3 % higher on average – in 2009. These large increases occurred during a year  when the consumer price index was actually down by .4% . The report also finds that over the past five years, brand-name drug costs have increased by 41.5%, during which inflation only rose by 13%. Noteworthy in this report is that its authors, responding to pharmaceutical industry critics who contested that prior AARP reports only looked at manufacturer prices, derived the current findings by calculating the average retail prices of over 200 popular brand name drugs.

(more…)

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While the country’s drug prices rise about 12% each year (or 76.2% in the last five years), one county in New York State has found a way to keep the increases lower than the U.S. average (Schenectady County News Release).

With a total increase rate of only 8.9% since 2005, Schenectady County in eastern New York attributes success to its Canadian Drug Program, which has saved the county and its public employees more than $13.7 million in annual drug costs. The Chairwoman of Schenectady County Legislature, Susan E. Savage, recently announced that the current expansion of their Canadian Drug Program (to include two more local unions) will save $4.2 million in 2010 alone. (more…)

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