PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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Specialty Drugs Are Not the Stuff of $4 Generic Drug Programs

Specialty drugs have been in the news for their exorbitant prices lately. Gilead Sciences’ Hepatitis C cure Sovaldi has received media exposure for costing $84,000 and in 2012, when Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center refused to use the colon cancer medication Zaltrap because of its $11,000 a month price, the manufacturer responded by offering discounts of 50%. Will these high prices come way down once the medications go generic?

A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined costs and utilization of specialty drugs (specifically cancer meds) as generic versions are introduced. Generally, prices for generic drugs drop as more manufacturers produce them due to price competition. This should presumably happen for specialty drugs, but there’s a catch. Many specialty drugs have a small user base and some of them are formulated as solutions or injection, which may require more specialized and expensive manufacturing processes compared to traditional oral drugs (i.e pills, liquids). For those reason, the drugs price discrepancy between brands and generics is not as great among specialty medications compared to regular medications.

The study didn’t analyze the best way to actually pay for these medications. But a recent analysis by HealthPocket took a look at Obamacare plans and specialty meds. Check that out here. We are still researching paying for specialty drugs and will have our own analysis and tips for saving at some point in the future.

Keep in mind that over time specialty drugs, such as Sovaldi, will go generic in the U.S. and be prices considerably lower than the brand. But unlike many pills for high blood pressure, depression, or cholesterol, you won’t find $4 Zaltrap at your local Rite-Aid anytime soon.

I wish I had a more concrete answer and analysis on the prices and access to specialty meds. It’s something that we here at are keeping an eye on, and we will certainly have updates in the future.

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Congressman Ron Paul’s Statement About Pharmaceutical Industry-FDA Collusion And What FDA Should Do About Online Pharmacies

As reported in DigitalJournal this past Wednesday, at a press conference in Keene, NH, Congressman Ron Paul (TX-14), Republican candidate for president, accused the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA of being in “bed together.” He derided their arrangement, characterized by a revolving door of people repeatedly switching jobs back and forth between the FDA and pharmaceutical industry, as collusion to reduce competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace, resulting in higher drug prices. When it comes to online pharmacies, personal drug importation and drug prices, Congressman Paul’s critique resonates all too loudly.

The pharmaceutical industry, through their main trade association Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has lobbied vigorously to keep safe personal drug importation illegal, and to scare Americans away through its media relations juggernaut and funding of the Partnership for Safe Medicine from buying safe and affordable medication online from Canada and other countries. PhRMA even commissioned the publication of a novel about a terrorist conspiracy – The Karasik Conspiracy in which terrorists attack Americans with bad drugs sold from Canada! This effort backfired and they pulled the plug on the publishing company, which then went ahead and published a different version of The Karasik Conspiracy novel in which a pharmaceutical giant poisons medications to protect its profits. (more…)

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