A new U.S. FDA public education campaign called BeSafeRx (www.fda.gov/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 PharmacyChecker.com. For many Americans they provide the only way to afford their medicine. International online pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com 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
Tagged with: BeSafeRx, Drug Prices, FDA, Kathleen Sebelius
Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), chaired a panel at the African American Museum in Philadelphia last week to discuss problems of access to affordable healthcare, which included the problem of drug costs in America. It’s noteworthy that Secretary Sebelius conspicuously did not mention that as governor of Kansas she adopted a drug importation program through which residents of Kansas had online access to verified and low-cost international pharmacies.
During the panel discussions, a retired pastor, Delores McCabe, brought focus to the high cost of prescription medication. As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
There has got to be something we can do above the Affordable Care Act that does something about an industry that is immoral,” [McCabe] said, drawing applause from the crowd. “It is immoral and unethical to charge people to stay alive.
In her response, Sebelius urged McCabe and the others to voice their opinions to their elected officials. She mentioned that strides have been taken to bring down costs during her time with the Obama administration, such as plugging the Medicare drug plan doughnut hold with 50% discounts and the passage of the Affordable Care Act through which more Americans will have healthcare insurance (and therefore lower drug costs). She also mentioned that as Governor of Kansas she was able to negotiate drug prices for Medicaid but that such negotiations for Medicare are illegal under federal law.
We wonder, however, why she omitted the fact that as governor she authorized the creation of a state website so Kansas residents could access verified international pharmacies offering safe and affordable prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Apparently, what was once politically popular, helping Americans personally import safe and affordable prescription medication, appears less so. Unfortunately, its lack of political popularity has probably resulted in fewer Americans getting the medication they need. Hopefully this election season will shine a bright light on the plight of Americans and their inability to afford medication in the United States and all the effective solutions to the problem, politically popular or not.
Tagged with: drug importation program, Health and Human Services, Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, politics
Today is the last day for the Medicare Part D open enrollment period. For most Medicare enrollees, those who do not have a plan by midnight tonight will face a penalty charge, which will be added to future Part D monthly premium payments.
The Medicare drug plans have certainly frustrated many seniors, who’s experiences can be found in the ratings and reviews on www.MedicareDrugPlans.com. Some of the most frequent problems with plans communicated by seniors are drugs being dropped by plan formularies mid-year; information on drug coverage was not initially made clear; co-pays were higher than expected; and customer service was often inadequate.
On the other hand, some seniors were completely satisfied with their plans. The bottom line is that you need to pick a plan now or you will pay more later.
Sharing her optimism for Medicare Part D benefits, and the discounts provided under the Affordable Healthcare Act, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius commented on Medicare.gov’s official blog: “Through the end of October, 2.65 million people with Medicare have received discounts on brand name drugs in the donut hole. These discounts have saved seniors and people with disabilities a total of $1.5 billion on prescriptions – averaging about $569 per person.”
If you’ve yet to choose your plan, you can easily compare reviews on MedicareDrugPlans.com before making the final decision. If you want to share your experiences with others then please rate your plan.
Tagged with: Affordable Healthcare Act, co-pays, customer service, discounts, donut hole, formulary, Kathleen Sebelius, Medicare, Medicare Drug Plans, Medicare.gov, medicaredrugplans.com, Open Enrollment, Part D, penalty, premiums, Secretary of Health and Human Services, seniors