48 Million Americans Forgo Filling Prescription Medication in 2010 Due To Cost, According to New Commonwealth Fund Survey

A new report by the Commonwealth Fund, from their 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, shows that 48 million Americans, ages 19-64, did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2010, up from 29 million in 2001 – a 66% increase. The study includes both insured and uninsured Americans but does not include children and seniors. The study indicates that the recession has greatly exacerbated the national crisis of prescription non-adherence (skipping medications), as nine out of 16 million Americans who have lost their job have also lost their health insurance.

It is difficult to estimate the sickness and even death that has resulted from so many millions of Americans not taking their prescribed medication due to cost. As evidenced by the new report, the situation is particularly dire for uninsured Americans with chronic medical conditions, as 27 million “skipped doses or did not fill a prescription for their condition because of the cost.” (more…)

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New Drug Savings Options Needed as 43,000 Illinois Residents Lose Benefits

An estimated 43,000 residents of Illinois will find it more difficult, if not impossible, to afford their prescription medication due to heavy budget cuts, according to the Chicago Tribune. Specifically, funding for the Illinois Cares Rx program, which  subsidizes the cost of medicine and payments associated with Medicare drug benefits, will be cut in half, from $107.4 million to $53.7 million. Illinois Cares Rx includes people with a Medicare drug plan and others who have no drug benefits at all.

With the cuts in place beginning September 1st, 2011, the Illinois Cares Rx program will only be available to those residents earning 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level – or $21,780 annually, down from a higher threshold of 240%, or $27,610. Even the 173,500 remaining in the program will “face higher co-payments for prescriptions — in some cases, double the amount they were previously paying.(more…)

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A study released last week by the Pew Foundation finds that “from 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households”. The study goes on to say, “The typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.”

In light of this information, we’re certain that our Spanish version of How to Save Money on Prescription Medications, Safely – A Consumer Guide, or Guía al Consumidor, is needed now more than ever to ensure the U.S. Hispanic community’s access to safe and affordable medication. With health costs ever rising, safe saving strategies are a lifeline for many, especially those hit hardest by the current economy.

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PharmacyChecker.com was mentioned this week in a U.S. News and World Report article entitled How to Cut Your Drug Costs. Listed among other effective ways to save money on prescription drugs, the article notes that PharmacyChecker “compares prices of mail-order pharmacies, and can help you find the lowest posted prices.

How to Cut Your Drug Costs reminds readers that buying drugs from Canada – and elsewhere overseas – is technically illegal, but it quotes AARP: “Over the past decade millions of Americans have ignored U.S. law to seek cheaper prices from Canada, most often by mail order.” Notably, AARP found Canadian prices for Lipitor to be about a third less than they are here in the U.S. The fact that the FDA has (to our knowledge) never prosecuted an individual for importing a three-month supply of personal, non-controlled drugs with a valid prescription, means that they too understand the importance of access to safe and affordable medication. (more…)

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We’re pleased to announce that we have translated our Guide called How To Save Money on Prescription Drugs, Safely – A Consumer Guide into Spanish, expanding access to our online pharmacy savings information to the Spanish-speaking community. Along with our PharmacyChecker Spanish homepage, and About Online Pharmacies page – Farmacias virtuales y de entrega por correo: Lo que usted debe saber – the Guide can be an exceedingly valuable resource for uninsured and under-insured Spanish-speaking people who live in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 14.3% of American Hispanics did not take their prescribed medication in 2009 due to cost.The situation is much worse for Hispanic non-citizens, 29 percent  who said they did not take their medication due to cost. These dire statistics prove that greater access to affordable medication is most acutely needed by the Hispanic community. We believe that our Guide can help the Hispanic community better access the medicines they need safely.

For more information on our Spanish-Language Consumer Guide, see our recent Press Release – and access the Guide itself, published on our English and Spanish homepages PharmacyChecker.com and PharmacyChecker.com/default_sp.asp.

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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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Generic prescriptions are on the rise, as doctors are prescribing them, and pharmacies are filling them, now more than ever. We recently wrote that the percentage of generic scripts being dispensed rose to 78% last year. But the popularity for generics – attributed to the significantly lower price tag compared to brand name drugs – is expected to take on a whole new meaning, as the patents for some blockbuster brand name drugs expire this year; this is also known as the “Patent Cliff”.

The biggest prize, Pfizer’s Lipitor (for Cholesterol), the number one selling drug in the U.S., goes generic later this year (November 2011); and Plavix (a blood thinner) and Actos (for Diabetes) will follow (May 2012 and August 2012, respectively). As patents run out, these and other popular prescription drugs will be far more affordable in the U.S., since generic drug prices tend to be lower here than in other countries. (more…)

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We don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but more reports keep coming out informing us, and hopefully our elected officials, too, that people are not taking their medication due to cost. Most recently it is the Mayo Clinic.

Based on a study of 209 patients prescribed heart medications, researchers found that among patients who did a poor job following prescriptions, financial concern was the main reason: 46 percent reported that they had stopped taking statins or not filled a prescription because of cost, and 23 percent acknowledged skipping doses to save money.

If there was ever ambiguity about whether high drug prices are a major threat to the public health, there is no longer. Data gathered by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the National Consumer’s League, and Harvard School of Public Health, and, now, from the Mayo Clinic proves the point. We’ve dedicated time and effort in finding solutions to this health emergency. Our Consumer Guide can help Americans alleviate this burden and our advocacy initiative provides them with a platform to speak up to their elected officials.

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This week in China, the National Development and Reform Commission put dramatic retail drug price cuts into effect. To lower prices, hospitals and clinics are now required to cap the costs for over 1,200 antibiotics and circulatory system drugs, according to Reuters. The 21% average decrease means $1.53 billion savings for Chinese patients – which is good news for them, but what does this mean for Americans?

While many of our drugs or drug ingredients are already manufactured in China, these price cuts won’t reduce the price of those drugs sold in the U.S. What could happen is the opposite. Lower prices in China may further drive increases in U.S. drug prices as drug companies look to the U.S. market to make up for lower margins in China. The U.S. is the only large market in which drug companies can arbitrarily increase their prices. (more…)

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We are proud to announce a second free edition of a special report written for the American consumer, entitled How To Save Money on Prescription Drugs, Safely – A Consumer Guide. In the first edition, published in 2008, our data showed a potential average savings on brand name drugs of 73% from verified international online pharmacies; the savings are now 80%. These even greater savings are due largely to increases in drug prices in the United States and stable or even lower drug prices outside the United States.

With generic drugs, the best prices remain in the U.S. By shopping at wholesale club online pharmacies and large retailers with discounted generics, average savings of 82% are possible on widely used generic drug products.

Sadly, too many Americans skip doses or stop taking their medication all together because of cost. In fact, recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that 25 million Americans did not take their medication due to cost in 2009. Affording prescription drugs should not be a matter of life and death. Our Consumer Guide offers a lifeline to American patients, enabling them to safely lower their drug costs to access the healthcare they need.

For more information on the Consumer Guide, see our news release.

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