Canada issued an interim order on Friday, November 27, preventing drug establishments from exporting products that would risk causing domestic shortages. The press release with quotes from Health Minister Patty Hajdu may be more digestible than the official order.
As I see it, Americans who rely on buying less expensive prescription drugs from Canada should not be too concerned about this new development. The order is directed at companies who distribute drugs via wholesale channels, not pharmacies that dispense drugs directly to patients. Patients in the U.S. with a valid prescription who safely order drugs from pharmacies in Canada do so through licensed retail pharmacies not wholesalers.
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In Thanksgiving seasons past, I have written posts connecting the problems of high drug prices and hunger in America. Where people and households are struggling to afford food, there’s a greater likelihood that they are forgoing needed medical treatments, including prescription drugs. The problem is far worse for people with chronic medical conditions. This may seem intuitive and obvious, but for those wanting some academic research to chew on, take a look at this from The American Journal of Medicine:
Forgetting about the potential dangers to competition from corporate Leviathan Amazon, that it launched a new online pharmacy this week will certainly appeal to tens of millions of Americans. Prescription drugs are yet another thing you can get when you go to Amazon.com. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member (aren’t we all?), then there are discounts and whip-fast delivery to be had. But, unlike in many other industries where Amazon can crush the competition on prices, its online pharmacy launch does not accomplish that. Brand name drugs, ones without and even with generic competition, are similarly priced to other American pharmacies. PharmacyChecker checked this out and has some good advice for consumers about Amazon’s pharmacy at Ask PharmacyChecker this week.
Overall, brand name drugs do not appear to be any cheaper using Amazon Pharmacy than what you can get using a discount card found on GoodRx or PharmacyChecker. How can they when the pharmaceutical industry has monopolistic pricing power over patented drugs? Amazon is subject to the same average wholesale acquisition costs as Walgreens. Not only do drug manufacturers have patents: they have special international trade protections where companies cannot import these same drugs from foreign wholesalers who charge much lower prices in Canada, not to mention the even lower prices in the UK and European Union countries – unless the drug manufacturers do the importing or authorize it.
(more…)Tagged with: amazon pharmacy, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Bezos