PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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When it comes to the topic of pain medication these days, we usually read about prescription opioid abuse, which tragically claims tens of thousands of lives each year. According to a recent article in the New York Times, while the landscape of dangers is different, we should also be concerned about every day, over-the-counter pain medication. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are common pain relievers you may keep around the house to relieve an occasional headache, toothache or post-workout soreness. They are also used to treat fever, arthritis, menstrual pain, migraines and inflammation. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are among the over-the-counter NSAIDs you’re probably most familiar with.

Particularly for those with a history of coronary artery disease, NSAIDs can cause serious health issues because they can clog your blood vessels. For others, NSAIDs can do harm to your digestive tracts. Other side effects, according to the article, include, “ulcers, bleeding, kidney failure and, in rare cases, liver failure.”

It appears that topical formulations, such as ointments, perhaps have minimal or fewer side effects. Here’s the rub…(pun absolutely intended)

While ibuprofen, for instance, is available over-the-counter (OTC) in a variety of tablets, such as Advil, the FDA has yet to approve OTC ointments containing the drug. This being America, such topical ibuprofen prescription-required products often cost a surprising amount of money.


Ibuprofen is a generic medication (the brand version is sold as Advil, Motrin, and others) available both OTC and by prescription depending on the strength. The average retail price of prescription-strength ibuprofen 600 mg in the United States is currently $38.35 for 90 tablets. You can compare prices for that same medication at international online pharmacies verified by The lowest price we found for ibuprofen 600 mg is just $18.99 for 100 tablets. That’s a 45% savings!

60 tablets of prescription-strength naproxen 500 mg have an average retail price of $36.31 when bought from your local pharmacy. Luckily, you can purchase it for just $26.99 for 84 tablets through verified international online pharmacies listed on That’s a 53% savings!

OTC versions of these medication may cost much less at your local U.S. pharmacy compared to Canada so be sure to check out their prices. Talk to your doctor to decide if prescription strength NSAIDs are necessary for you.

Topical NSAIDs

Currently, topical NSAIDs, like the gel version of diclofenac or ibuprofen, are only available by prescription in the United States.

If you and your doctor do decide to go with a topical NSAID, you can find much lower prices online from Canada. Pennsaid (diclofenac topical 1.5% solution) is used to treat pain in the knees caused by osteoarthritis. You can get Pennsaid 150 ml for around $256.00 at your local U.S. pharmacy if you use a discount coupon. Compare that to the lowest international online pharmacy price found on Pennsaid 1.5% 120 ml for $134.95. That’s a 66% savings if you order through a PharmacyChecker-verified online pharmacy.

Although topical NSAIDs may be sold over-the-counter in other countries at a much lower cost, keep in mind, for those Americans ordering medications from Canada (or from any other country) from a PharmacyChecker-verified online pharmacy: you must have a prescription if a prescription is required in the United States. This is true even if one is not required elsewhere! If you are treating chronic pain, such as arthritis, and wish to order your meds online, ask your doctor about a prescription for a topical pain reliever.

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