Properly Verified International Online Pharmacies Sell Genuine and Safe Medication
Last month, Roger Bate, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and head of the Safe Medicines Coalition, published the results of a study which tested and compared the quality of drugs purchased from online pharmacies in the U.S. and abroad, including pharmacies verified by third-parties and those not verified. The findings were clear: PharmacyChecker-approved international online pharmacies sell medications of comparable quality to U.S. online pharmacies verified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and LegitScript.
In fact, overall, the results were better for PharmacyChecker-verified pharmacies than for those verified by NABP and LegitScript. Results were dramatically worse for pharmacies with no third-party verification. The drug testing focused on generic versions of Lipitor (atorvastatin) and of generic Cipro (ciprofloxacin), which were ordered from the online pharmacies by the researchers. (more…)
Tagged with: Atorvastatin, CIPA, Cipro, Ciprofloxacin, LegitScript, Lipitor, NABP, Roger Bate, testing
Most people think newer is better, but according to a study published in Health Affairs that might not be the case for prescription drugs. In short, the new study shows that drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after enactment of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 1992 (PDUFA), a bill that led to more expeditious drug approvals funded by drug companies, were more likely to have safety problems than ones approved before PDUFA. These findings are not only relevant to drug safety, but also to drug savings. Older drugs are often sold as generics and, thus, will have much lower co-payments than new drugs. For those paying out-of-pocket, the cost of a generic is often 80% less than the brand.
The study analyzed 748 drug approvals between 1975 and 2009. The approvals were of new molecular entities not for generic versions of existing brand-name drugs. Before PDUFA the chances that safety issues would arise involving approved new drugs was 21.2%; after PDUFA it increased to 26.7%.
According to the lead author, “The FDA needs to make sure drugs are safe before they’re approved, not rush to judgment in order to meet artificial deadlines.” Not surprisingly, FDA and the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, take issue with the study. Their main points are that PDUFA helped speed up important drug approvals and get medications to patients faster and it improved the predictability of FDA’s system of drug approvals.
Regulations for marketing and manufacturing new drugs can save people and they can kill people. If the regulations are too rigid then patients won’t get needed medications fast enough. Or regulations can increase manufacturing costs resulting in unaffordable drug prices. If regulations are too weak then drugs will be less safe and effective. While in my opinion the study clearly has merit, PDUFA is helpful. Before its passage, drug approvals were lagging far behind other advanced economies in Europe.
Furthermore, the study does not show “causality,” meaning it does not prove that faster drug approvals after PDUFA led to less safer drugs. Nonetheless, it’s understandable that a drug with a long history of safe and effective use, accompanied by few side effects, is more trustworthy than a newly approved drug since the long term effects of the latter are unknown.
But what does this all mean for consumers and drug savings? (more…)
Tagged with: Atorvastatin, Brintellix, Crestor, Prozac, SSRI, Statin
Americans who take Celebrex to fight arthritis may be pleased to know that a generic version has been approved by the FDA. The New York Times’ coverage reports, in a somewhat predictive fashion, that generic drugs “can cost 30 to 80 percent less than the branded products.” While that’s true, don’t expect generic Celebrex to be so cheap. What’s most likely is that its price will initially be around 80%, and then creep downwards.
Millions of Americans have seen this pricing trend over the past few years, as many popular medications have recently gone generic. A patent’s expiry does not necessarily mean cheaper drugs, at least immediately. That’s because the FDA grants marketing exclusivity for a generic to a single drug company for six months, so only two drug companies – the brand name manufacturer and the first generic manufacturer – are competing. As more drug companies enter the market the price will eventually cost a fraction of the brand name counterpart. But that first generic to market will usually only be about 20% cheaper than the brand.
When atorvastatin (generic Lipitor) first came out you could actually save a lot of money by purchasing the brand from an international online pharmacy instead of the generic from a U.S. pharmacy. Now, with many companies manufacturing atorvastatin, generic Lipitor in the U.S. can be found for about $15 per month if you use a discount card. International online pharmacies that once had a leg up on U.S. pharmacies lose big once competition drives U.S. generic drug prices down.
A perfect example is the popular antidepressant Cymbalta. Currently, the cash price of a 90 day supply of duloxetine (generic Cymbalta, 60 mg) is around $250 – and that’s after using a discount card at the pharmacy. A 90 day supply of brand name Cymbalta is only $90 when ordered from an international online pharmacy – a 64% discount!
We expect this pricing pattern for Abilify, Gleevec, Crestor, and many other drugs coming off patent down the pipeline. In the initial phase of a new generic’s release, the brand version from an international online pharmacy will probably be much cheaper, but eventually your neighborhood pharmacy will be your best bet. So if you take Celebrex expect to celebrate a low cost U.S. generic in early 2015!
Tagged with: Atorvastatin, Celebrex, Cymbalta, Patent Cliff