Well, as I was writing this post about the politics of importation, the FDA published its final rule on drug importation. Find it here: Section 804 Final Rule. It’s 179 pages so I haven’t had time to read it all yet.
As a quick reminder, pursuant to Section 804 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the FDA issued a proposed new rule to allow wholesale imports of lower-cost drugs from Canada, subject to many conditions and excluding expensive biologics. Phillip Galewitz of Kaiser Health News asks if this is an “election gift for Florida” reporting that Florida will be the first state granted approval to import by the FDA. This is not surprising. Florida has an exceptionally large number of retired, older Americans who are unhappy about the cost of prescription drugs and 29 electoral college votes that Trump cannot afford to lose.
Originally published on PrescriptionJustice.org
Prescription Justice has graded all members of Congress in a drug prices report card. Some people are dismayed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi received an F. After all, didn’t she roll-out and shepherd H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, through the House and vociferously called for its passage on the House floor, as read on the Speaker’s website. So, what happened to her grade? A lot of Rep. Pelosi’s F has to do with her role as Speaker and how it differs from all other legislators.
I admire Speaker Pelosi for many – even most – positions she’s taken and advanced throughout her career – including her work to pass H.R. 3. Not surprisingly, I’m a Democrat! But that cannot change the math of our system of grading.
Due to the methodology and quantitative factors used to create the report card, even a vocal advocate like Rep. Pelosi, can get an F. You see Prescription Justice grades objectively on the following factors: 1) votes; 2) bill sponsorships/co-sponsorships, 3) campaign contributions from drug companies; and 3) policy positions articulated on member’s websites.
Valisure is a U.S. online pharmacy that actually tests the quality of medication it sends to patients and apparently, to my delight, they support drug importation as a policy to lower costs. Pretty cool.
When people go online or to their local Walgreens to buy prescription drugs domestically, they are largely relying on the regulatory strength of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make sure those drugs will work as directed by their prescribers. While the FDA is known as a top drug regulator, for all intents and purposes, Valisure is saying that you can’t fully trust them. Why? Because they don’t do adequate testing to prove safety and effectiveness of drugs. Furthermore, the agency’s position that FDA-approved generic drugs work just as well as the brand is often not true.
I can’t stop thinking about Trump’s so-called “Most Favored Nation” executive order on drug prices. I know that’s kind of sad considering I’m on vacation.
Keeping it short, when Trump announced his four executive orders on drug prices at the end of July, one of them seemed to be touted as the nuclear option. Spewing the rhetoric Americans want to hear about how he is standing up to Big Pharma, Trump announced that they would get the lowest price on drugs in Medicare:
“We will determine what other medically advanced nations pay for the most expensive drugs, and instead of paying the highest price, Medicare will pay the lowest price and so will lots of other U.S. buyers.”
Somewhere along the line, that order, which oddly was the only one of four that was not made public, was referred to as Most Favored Nation (MFN). MFN is one of the core concepts of international trade agreements. It means that countries party to the agreement get the same low tariffs and other benefits as the others: better terms than those who are not party to the agreement.
Originally published on PharmacyChecker.com.
In America, tens of millions of people are skipping necessary medications because the prices are too high. PharmacyChecker exists to help people, mostly Americans, find prescription drug safety and savings information on the Internet. Founded in 2002, our greatest accomplishment is verifying and identifying the safest international online pharmacies, sites that process orders filled by licensed pharmacies in Canada and different countries that require a prescription. We’re bestknown for comparing drug prices among properly credentialed online pharmacies.
This week the Business Leaders for Health Care Transformation (BLHCT) sent a letter to the CEO of Microsoft, signed by over 1,100 business owners, CEOs, and entrepreneurs and nearly 40 non-profit organizations:
“We do not all believe that having to personally import prescription medicines, using online pharmacies or otherwise, is the best solution for high drug prices in America, but we all recognize that it can be done safely and is a lifeline for many. To that effect, PharmacyChecker plays a valuable role in protecting consumers’ safety.”
The elephant in the room here: personal importation of prescription drugs is technically illegal under most circumstances. We get that. Still, millions of Americans buy medications from other countries each year, often online, because of cost and they are never prosecuted for doing so. Here’s the thing: We don’t sell medication, process or distribute prescription drugs in any manner. We verify and provide information. Period.
I just love this! A new post on the Ask PharmacyChecker resource section is called “How to Get a 99% Off Your Prescription (without ordering from Canada).” Taking a break from the politics and policy I find myself writing about on these blog pages, I want to brag about PharmacyChecker’s domestic savings. More than ever, if an American compares drug prices on PharmacyChecker.com, they will learn that most generic drugs are far cheaper domestically than in Canada – or, in some cases, even India. The PharmacyChecker Discount Card helps people in the U.S. afford medication at their local pharmacy.
Many of you know that prices on the same brand name drugs sold outside the U.S. are often 90% lower. The only thing crazier than those price discrepancies are the generic drug price discrepancies within America, in the same state, town, even on the same street! [Keep in mind, we’re talking about cash-paying customers: People without health insurance or those with health insurance who can pay less out-of-pocket.]