PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Educating American Consumers About Buying Medications From Foreign Pharmacies: What’s Right and Wrong?

Tens of millions of Americans cannot afford medication, which can lead to more sickness, hospitalizations, and even death. Despite this public health crisis, our trusted regulatory authorities, the pharmaceutical industry, and U.S. pharmacy trade groups work together to scare Americans away from ordering much more affordable medications from foreign pharmacies. Is that right or wrong?

This week, in our continuing quest to get the truth out and for our elected leaders in Congress to take bold action to protect online access to safe and affordable medication, we’re publishing the next section of our report called Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation, and Public Health


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International Online Pharmacy Report for 2013: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This article summarizes good things and bad that are happening online with drug prices and savings, economics, legislation, politics, and even ethics that relate to access by Americans to more affordable medication offered by safe international online pharmacies. If you’re a consumer – especially an American consumer facing high drug costs – you should read this. When you’re done (or even right now!) we recommend joining RxRights to help play a role in making medication more affordable for all Americans.

Next year, we’re planning to focus more attention on local Americans pharmacies: what they’re doing right, wrong, and in between, and how you can save and take advantage of their in-store opportunities to improve your health! But for now, the international online pharmacy report…

The Good

The money Americans could save on brand name drugs by shopping at safe international online pharmacies continued to increase in 2013. In 2011 , we reported potential savings of 80%, then a mind-boggling 85% in 2012, and now 87.6% in 2013! Savings have proliferated because America’s trading partners, such as Australia, Canada, the states of the European Union, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, generally, have kept brand drug prices stable, whereas in America they increased by an estimated 13% last year.

The pricing data referred to above is from our prescription drug price savings research released this past September. In that report we looked at popular prescription drugs that are not always covered by health insurance plans, including new plans offered as a result of Obamacare. An extreme example of savings is on the drug Abilify 10 mg, a medication prescribed for depression; $9,007.08 could be saved annually by purchasing the drug from the lowest-cost online pharmacy verified by compared with a retail pharmacy in New York City.  A more common example of potential annual savings from international pharmacies is the $3,935.28 savings on Spiriva Handihaler 18 mcg. Drug prices are out of control in the U.S., especially for those with no domestic generic alternative, and access to international online pharmacies is as urgent as ever.

It would, of course, be better if Americans could find more reasonable prices on brand name drugs at their local pharmacies.


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BeSafeRx Misleads American People, Pleases Pharmaceutical Industry

A new U.S. FDA public education campaign called BeSafeRx ( would be much more helpful if it were more truthful. In launching the campaign, designed to alert consumers to the potential dangers of online pharmacies, the FDA Commissioner said, “If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.” In actuality, low prices from online pharmacies outside the U.S. are often quite real and are offered from licensed pharmacies selling genuine products. The problem is that U.S. prices are just unbelievably high. The U.S. pharmaceutical and pharmacy industries (which don’t want to lose profits and consumers to lower priced pharmacies) in other countries, have come out as big supporters of BeSafeRx.

Correctly, the FDA alerts consumers that there are thousands of dangerous pharmacy sites that should be avoided, but safe international pharmacies do exist. Independent studies and over a decade of experience show the high degree of safety Americans can find in personally imported medication from online pharmacies which have been properly credentialed by For many Americans they provide the only way to afford their medicine. International online pharmacies verified by require prescriptions and sell genuine medication at prices much lower than available domestically: often 90% lower.

The big losers of FDA’s online pharmacy campaign are American consumers and taxpayers. American consumers lose by having to pay much higher prices in U.S. pharmacies, or, tragically, by not taking their medication at all. In 2010, 48 million Americans did not fill a prescription due to high drug prices, according the Commonwealth Fund. This is a national health crisis, which is only getting worse.  As taxpayers, we lose because when people end up getting sick by not taking needed medication they are more likely to end up in emergency rooms across the county incurring medical costs paid for by our dwindling national coffers (you and me).

Remember, our Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department (which oversees the FDA) – Kathleen Sebelius – operated her own drug importation program as Governor of Kansas. During her tenure, consumers could order prescription medication from pharmacies in the Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK found through the State of Kansas website. If it was safe then it is safe now. It appears that only the political calculation has changed in perverse deference to the big pharmaceutical companies.

Tod Cooperman, MD, President, and Gabriel Levitt, Vice President

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