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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Getting Generically Price Gouged? – Try the Brand!

Americans are used to high drug prices — at least for brand-name medications, which are often five times more expensive in the U.S. than in other countries. Conversely, Americans are used to low-cost generics, which are often cheaper here than internationally. Unfortunately, the U.S. generic pharmaceutical market is out of whack!  Generic drug prices have begun rapidly rising over the past few months…

And rapidly rising can mean a price increase of 6,000%, as reported by recent articles in the Huffington Post, Washington Times, and The People’s Pharmacy. Here’s an almost unbelievable fact: the brand-name drug is often much less expensive – if you shop at an international online pharmacy.

So, why such drastic increases? The People’s Pharmacy article attributes the increases to three factors. First, consolidation among generic manufacturers means less competition among drug makers; forty-four percent of all generic drug revenue goes to just three companies. Second, companies are discontinuing the manufacture of certain drugs leading to drug shortages. Finally, FDA enforcement actions have shut down certain manufacturers because of poor manufacturing practices. With reduced supply and competition, it’s no wonder that prices are increasing.

So if you’re finding your generic medication rising in price, how can you find it for less…much less? Try the brand! I’ve identified some generic drugs below that have significant savings when the brand is purchased from abroad.

Prices for Generic Medications

Drug Cash Price* International Online Pharmacy Price (Brand) Potential Savings (generic)
Clomipramine—75 mg, 90 pills $985 $121.50+


Duloxetine – 60 mg, 100 pills $734 $100++


Doxycycline Hyclate — 100 mg, 100 pills $617 $251.21


*Cash price from local pharmacy in New York City. International Online Pharmacy Prices from lowest price on
+ Price calculated from 100 pills
++Price calculated from 84 pills
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American Made, Cheaper Abroad: Cymbalta

Cymbalta from a foreign onine pharmacyA weekly series identifying prescription drugs manufactured in America and their prices.

Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride), a popular medication for depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, is manufactured in Indiana, U.S.A. and marketed by Eli Lilly. The cost for a 90-day supply of Cymbalta (60 mg) is $878.99 at a local pharmacy in New York City. The cost for a 90-day supply of Cymbalta (60 mg) is $878.99 at a local pharmacy in New York City. From a verified online pharmacy, the same quantity costs $115.71. From a verified online pharmacy, the same quantity costs $115.71. That’s an 87% savings for a drug made in the U.S. if purchased abroad. Over the course of one year an American could save $3,053.

Check back next week for the savings on another American drug available abroad.

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