PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Celebrating Generic Celebrex? Not so fast!

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!

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How to Save on Celebrex

Celebrex (celocoxib) is a top-selling brand name drug used to treat pain, tenderness, and stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis affecting the spine). It may also be used for primary dysmenorrhea, acute pain, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

For Americans paying for Celebrex out-of-pocket, the price is often out of reach. As shown below, at a local bricks and mortar pharmacy, the annual cost for Celebrex can be over $2,300. Fortunately, savvy consumers can save as much as 82% by shopping around.

Annual Cost of Celebrex 200 mg

Price Per Year Savings over B&M Pharmacy Percent Savings
Bricks and Mortar Pharmacy: $2,303.88
Discount Card Option: $1,933.00 $370.88 16%
Coupon Option $1,935.00 $368.88 16%
U.S. Online Pharmacy: $1,750.32 $553.56 24%
International Online Pharmacy $421.78 $1,882.10 82%

Prices collected 8/29/2012

If you are uninsured or have insurance with a pharmacy benefit plan that doesn’t cover Celebrex, your best savings option is to use a verified international online pharmacy. The cost for a full year supply of Celebrex – made by the same manufacturer that sells it in the U.S. – is only $421.78 from abroad. That’s an 82% discount over your local pharmacy – or $1,872 is annual savings! View Celebrex prices on For some people, these savings mean the difference between taking and foregoing this important medicine.

If you need Celebrex immediately then you may want to look into drug discount cards or coupons, since shipping times from online pharmacies may be a few weeks. We’ve listed sample savings above, but be aware that not all drug discount cards or coupons offer the same savings. Your best bet is to look into a few different ones, and then compare their prices. And don’t be afraid to ask your local pharmacist about savings; he or she may have ideas to help you cut costs. When it comes time for refills, you can use an international online pharmacy to save the most.

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The Patent Cliff Means U.S. Pharmacies are Increasingly a Lower Cost Option

Generic prescriptions are on the rise, as doctors are prescribing them, and pharmacies are filling them, now more than ever. We recently wrote that the percentage of generic scripts being dispensed rose to 78% last year. But the popularity for generics – attributed to the significantly lower price tag compared to brand name drugs – is expected to take on a whole new meaning, as the patents for some blockbuster brand name drugs expire this year; this is also known as the “Patent Cliff”.

The biggest prize, Pfizer’s Lipitor (for Cholesterol), the number one selling drug in the U.S., goes generic later this year (November 2011); and Plavix (a blood thinner) and Actos (for Diabetes) will follow (May 2012 and August 2012, respectively). As patents run out, these and other popular prescription drugs will be far more affordable in the U.S., since generic drug prices tend to be lower here than in other countries. (more…)

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