PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Alex AzarThis week, President Trump potentially handed Big Pharma one of its greatest victories by appointing Alex Azar the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Why? Until earlier this year, Alex Azar was the president of Eli Lilly USA and few people (companies are people?) on earth personify Big Pharma like Eli Lilly.

This matters to Americans who import lower cost medication to fill prescriptions because the FDA is an agency housed in HHS, and HHS has a lot of statutory power when it comes to importation of prescription drugs.

President Trump campaigned on making it legal for Americans to buy lower-cost medications from other countries, but Eli Lilly and Alex Azar are leading opponents of safe importation. In fact, Eli Lilly is perhaps the leader when it comes to hatching, or funding, strategic communications and lobbying campaigns to stop Americans from using safe, international online pharmacies. Its efforts through the non-profit group, Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies—FUNDED BY ELI LILLY—have been frighteningly successful at fooling our elected officials and the public that international online pharmacies are inherently bad for Americans. They do so by conflating counterfeit drugs and even fentanyl abuse with safe international online pharmacies. As I see it, Eli Lilly’s narrative on online pharmacy and importation incorporates the most sinister aspects of fake news. Really.

For those of you who are new to this issue, verifies international online pharmacies. Americans and consumers across the globe buy lawfully-manufactured, safe and effective medication from the pharmacies approved in our program. For many Americans, this is a proven lifeline of safe and affordable medication. It’s technically prohibited under most circumstances to import prescription drugs from a pharmacy in another country, but the FDA doesn’t go after individuals for prosecution – ever.

The pharmaceutical industry hates this: Americans actually taking matters into their own hands to buy a prescription drug they can afford, saving hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars a year – but eating in to the industry’s profits in doing so. The audacity! I mean, come on: Pharma spent all that money to pay off members of congress, federal officials with job offers, think tanks, patient groups, former FBI agents and lobbying… the list is never ending, to put a stop to it. Even Interpol is funded by Pharma! Here…look.

Mr. Azar has stated on Fox News:

“This thing about importing drugs from Canada is a canard…These drugs are not American-produced drugs sitting in a Canadian retail pharmacy. These are often drugs coming from China or India or elsewhere that are just being trans-shipped through Canada into the U.S. The administration, public health officials have repeatedly found these are not safe. There can be no guarantee of safety.”

That is maddeningly obtuse. What is he talking about “American-produced” drugs? Most of our drugs are not made here, and lots of medications made in the U.S. are sent to other countries where they are sold at lower price. The FDA say’s 40% —but our more recent research shows that the numbers are much higher, closer to 70%. The kicker is that 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in those American drugs are foreign made, and much of it in India and China.

Let’s take Eli Lilly’s Jardiance for example. A three-month supply of the 25 mg pills at a U.S. pharmacy will cost an uninsured or underinsured patient about $1500. That drug was made in Germany by Boehringer Ingelheim and exported – legally – for sale in U.S. pharmacies. Jardiance 25 mg is sold in Canada, too! Not some transshipped or phony version but the real one. You can find Jardiance for under $500: $1000 less than in the U.S.; a savings of $4000 a year. It’s even cheaper in the UK, under $400. And even cheaper internationally from other locations. The safety and savings are real.

Eli Lilly’s and Alex Azar’s position on importation is a canard.

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