The reality of the cost of prescription drugs in the United States is that prices continue to go up and up, insurance covers less and less, and our out-of-pocket cost requires bigger and bigger pockets.
There seems to be no end in sight. We can make all the noise we want, but prices still go up, and up, and up.
As many smart patients know, those very high prices in the United States are far higher than prices for the same drugs in other countries.* For example, the average retail price of Lipitor, a popular cholesterol drug, is $218.51 for a one month supply in the US (3x that for 90 days is $655.53!)
But in other countries, like Australia, Canada, Singapore, or the UK, that same 90-day supply of Lipitor can be purchased for $90 or less. That’s a difference of more than $2,600 a year!
Granted, many well-known and popular prescription drugs like Lipitor have less expensive, generic versions. And many states have laws that require a prescription be filled with a generic when one is available.
But for millions of Americans, there is no generic drug equivalent for the drug they need and have been prescribed. For them – thankfully – there may be a way to save big bucks on their prescriptions by purchasing them from a foreign pharmacy.
Now, for those of you who have been around on the internet for the last decade or more, I hear you. You’re thinking “No! Those foreign pharmacies are scams! Cialis! Viagra! Xanax! Etc!”
But I’m here to tell you that yes – there are plenty of bogus, steal-your-money, deliver fraudulent or counterfeit goods pharmacies. (I even hesitate to call them pharmacies!) And yes, we have to be careful.
But there are also dozens, possibly hundreds of well-respected, good, honest practice pharmacies in other countries that sell prescription drugs to Americans for a fraction of what it costs to purchase them in the US – safely and (mostly) legally – with a few notes:
It is true, that by the letter of the law of the US, purchasing drugs in another country then bringing them back to the US, is illegal. However, none other than the US FDA itself has told Americans how they can purchase (up to a) 90 day supply for “personal importation” without fear of legal problems.
Purchase prescription drugs in person in Canada or Mexico (or other countries) by following the FDA’s guidelines for personal importation.
Purchase prescription drugs from foreign pharmacies online safely by using one of the pre-verified foreign pharmacies listed at sites like Pharmacy Checker following the FDA personal importation guidelines.
I actually have two very positive personal experiences with purchases from other countries:
- In 2002, as my mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease became more severe, my father read about a drug called Namenda which had been approved in several countries in Europe but wasn’t even on the FDA approval radar in the US yet. Dad discussed Namenda with Mom’s neurologist – who agreed she could benefit, and wrote the prescription. Using Pharmacy Checker, I found a good pharmacy in Canada for Dad to order from – which he did – and for more than one year, we watched Mom’s cognition improve.
- My dog’s vet prescribes for him both heartworm and flea repellent meds, both very expensive, branded drugs. Banjo is a little rescue (terrier), and the staff at the rescue kennel told us about a foreign pharmacy where we can purchase both prescriptions for about 30% of what we would pay for them in the US. Over the course of a year, it’s a savings of hundreds of dollars.
I share these examples because I recognize you may be nervous about purchasing drugs in a manner you aren’t used to. But hopefully, between the potential cost savings and the stories of success using this safe approach, you’ll be willing to give it a try.
If you are still unsure about purchasing drugs from outside the US, then you’ll want to hire a professional, independent patient advocate to help you. Advocates listed in the AdvoConnection Directory have learned about these possibilities through their professional organization, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates.
*Why are drugs so much more expensive in the US? Because deals are made between insurers and drug manufacturers to keep them high so that manufacturers can make more money than they make when they sell their drugs in other countries.
*Why are the prices so much lower in other countries? Because they have universal healthcare in those countries, meaning their government negotiates the pricing, keeping it far, far, lower.