News about Prescription Medicines

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why are Generic Drug Prices so High?

High Priced U.S. Generic Drugs Are Often More Expensive Than Brand Name Counterparts in Other Countries, According to PharmacyChecker.com


White Plains, New York — November 20, 2014 —As the Senate prepares to hold a hearing about the increasing costs of many generic drugs, PharmacyChecker.comreleased new data showing that Americans are paying more for many generics than consumers pay for their brand name counterparts in other countries. PharmacyChecker.com verifies online pharmacies and compares prescription drug prices. Some generics cost close to 20 times more than the prices of brand name equivalents available from other countries.

The hearing, "Why are Some Generic Drugs Skyrocketing in Price," will be held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging on Thursday at 1pm. High drug prices in America are a leading cause of prescription non-adherence. According to the Commonwealth Fund, 50 million Americans did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2012 (Source: S. R. Collins, R. Robertson, T. Garber, and M. M. Doty, "Insuring the Future: Current Trends in Health Coverage and the Effects of Implementing the Affordable Care Act", The Commonwealth Fund, April 2013).

Tod Cooperman, M.D., president of PharmacyChecker.com said: "Americans should not have to skip prescribed medications, brand or generic, due to cost. Today, as the senators seek to discover why costs are on the rise for generic, which is a critical issue, we encourage further inquiry into how Americans can afford medications they need. It might seem too good to be true, but the fact is that consumers can and do buy the brand name versions of some of these high-priced generics online from licensed pharmacies in other countries at a discount of about 90%, despite federal prohibitions."

For example, the cash price for 90 pills of the drug budesonide, which treats asthma and other lung ailments, is $1,625 at a chain pharmacy in New York City. For just $155.70, the brand version, Entocort, marketed by AstraZeneca, can be purchased online from a verified international online pharmacy – a savings of over 90%. The cash price for 90 pills of the anti-depression medication clomipramine is $900 at a U.S. pharmacy in New York City. If purchasing from a verified international online pharmacy, the brand version of clomipramine, Anafranil is $45.90 – a savings of 95%.

Foreign Brand Drug Prescription Savings vs U.S. Generic Drug1

Generic Drug Name (Brand Name)U.S. Generic Price*Foreign Brand Price+Foreign Brand SavingsAnnual Savings
Digoxin (Lanoxin) 250 mcg, 90 pills$187.00$24.3087.01%$650.80
Divalproex Sodium ER (Depakote) 500 mg, 90 pills$268.00$50.4081.19%$870.40
Pravastatin Sodium (Pravachol) 10 mg, 90 Pills$230.00$31.5086.30%$794.00
Clomipramine (Anafranil) 25 mg, 90 pills$900.00$45.9094.90%$3,416.40
Rabeprazole Sodium (Aciphex) 20 mg, 30 pills$328.00$33.9989.64%$1,176.04
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) 60 mg, 90 pills$705.00$67.5090.43%$2,550.00
Budesonide (Entocort) 3 mg, 90 pills$1,625.00$155.7090.42%$5,877.20
Amlodipine/Valsartan (Exforge) 5/160 mg, 90 pills$431.99$93.6078.33%$1,353.56
Raloxifene (Evista) 60 mg, 90 pills$584.00$88.2084.90%$1,983.20
Valsartan (Diovan) 160 mg, 90 pills$420.00$55.8086.71%$1,456.80
Average Savings:86.98%$2,012.84
1The potential savings when a consumer finds the lowest price available from a PharmacyChecker.com-approved online pharmacy vs. the price at a U.S pharmacy in Brooklyn, NY.
*U.S. generic prices at a pharmacy in Brooklyn, NY.
+Foreign brand prices found on PharmacyChecker.com. Prices for 90 pills based on 100 pill, per pill, prices.
All prices as of 11/17/2014

Higher generic drug prices are often attributed to fewer drug manufacturers competing in the marketplace. The causes of lower competition include supply interruptionswhen the FDA finds manufacturing problems, consolidation among pharmaceutical companies that make the same drug, or low profitability of certain drug products. In some cases, higher generic drug prices are simply due to arbitrary price increases by retail pharmacies.

Federal law prohibits personal drug importation under most circumstances, but the practice is generally permitted and individuals are never prosecuted, according to the FDA (See http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2013/02/01/is-it-safe-to-use-an-overseas-pharmacy/). Peer reviewed studies have demonstrated the safety of international online pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com.

PharmacyChecker.com was founded by Tod Cooperman, M.D. in 2002 to help consumers safely save money on medication by identifying the lowest drug prices from reputable online pharmacies. PharmacyChecker.com independently checks the credentials of online pharmacies and pharmacy discount cards and provides free and easy online comparisons of drug prices.

For more information, contact Gabriel Levitt, Vice President, PharmacyChecker.com at 718-387-4526 or gabriel.levitt@pharmacychecker.com.

Publisher of leading websites on aging, prescription drug costs statement to U.S. Senate Subcommittee




 The following is a statement submitted as written testimony to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging of the Senate HELP Committee in hearings on November 20, 2014.  The statement calls for investigations into the totality of pricing practices of Pharma and the Generic Prescription manufacturers that have helped make the U.S. a 'safe haven' for the highest drug prescription drug prices in the world--all to the detriment of the health and well-being of Americans.

 
An Appeal for
A New National Strategy to Combat Exorbitant Prescription Medicine Prices in the United States
November 20, 2014


Thank you Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Elijah Cummings, for your leadership on this important issue, and thank you Committee members for the opportunity to submit this written testimony for consideration during your hearings on the exorbitant price increases of generic prescription medicines.
You are to be commended for calling attention to the important issue of how the high costs of prescription medicines are a major driver of the country’s continuing healthcare cost crisis.
As publisher of www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com and http://RxforAmricanHealth.blogspot.com , I have had the opportunity to work with advocates for lower prescription drug prices for nearly 14 years.  During that time, we have documented the adverse effects to the health and well-being of Americans when they are deprived access to the health benefits of a regimen of vital medicines because they simply cannot afford them
At one time, it was believed and hoped that low-cost generic medicines would help resolve that problem.  Unfortunately, that has not proven to be the case, as too many generic manufacturers have taken advantage of the tremendous spike in brand-name medicines by major pharmaceutical manufacturers to increase the prices of their generics so much that they too are unaffordable.
And, therein, lies the root of the problem—America is perceived as a ‘safe haven’ for the highest prescription drug prices in the world.  Unfortunately for Americans,  at this time there is no tactic that will change this. 
That is why I and many others believe it is a time for a more comprehensive approach by Congress to a national strategy on all issues of prescription medicine costs and access. 
No issue stands alone.  Events in each segment of prescription medicine access and pricing are related. Each has impact upon healthcare costs and the health of Americans.
A prime example of this is the on-going onslaught by Pharma to deny millions of Americans their right to access to safe, affordable personally imported brand-name prescription medicines from licensed registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the United States, and do so at prices as much as 60 percent less than those available in the U.S. 
For the sake of transparency, I must note that I have acted as a consultant to a number of companies in Canada who provide services to allow Americans access to purchase their medicines from such sources, as well as working with many Seniors’ advocacy groups on this issue.
Based on that first-hand experience, I encourage you to expand the scope of your investigation to examine what many advocates for personal importation of prescription medicines believe to be a comprehensive strategy by Pharma to guarantee that the U.S. is not only a ‘safe haven’ for its predatory pricing practices, as noted in the link to this blog from RxFor AmericanHealth. (http://rxforamericanhealth.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-perfect-stormpharmas-agenda-to-make.html), but to greatly reduce the options to Americans to purchase low-cost medicines, if Pharma is successful.
While at first glance, this might seem to be beyond the scope of this hearing, the fact is that if Pharma is successful in its approach to restricting personal importation, and, if the rapid rise in generics continues, the American public will have nowhere to turn to purchase affordable medicines.
Towards this end, Pharma’s strategy includes a variety of initiatives against personal importation of medicines.  These include, but are not limited to:
·        ‘Certification’ amendments imposed on the HHS Secretary to deter legislation allowing personal importation passed by the Senate;
·        Collusion between the FDA and Customs to seize safe,  personally imported prescription medicines, and to  require the individuals ordering the prescriptions to sign an ‘admission’ that they knowingly participated in an illegal act and that they would not continue to do so (fortunately, when this was called to the attention of the Senate, a bi-partisan effort  in 2007 forbade the continuation of the practice);
·        This did not discourage Pharma, which followed up with attempts to limit the freedom of the Internet by legislation such as Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPPA) and Stop Online Pharmacy Act (SOPA), both of which were fortunately turned aside; 
·        PhRMA, the trade group for the Pharmaceutical Industry, recently joined in a law suit in Maine to overturn the will of the citizens of Maine whose legislature passed legislation to facilitate the purchase by the State’s citizens of brand-name prescription medicines from Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, but the court ruled that PhRMA had no standing and removed them from the suit, which is still awaiting a final outcome;
·        Most recently, the Country is in a position to witness a governmental agency ostensibly designed to protect the health and well-being of Americans (the FDA) actually destroying authentic brand-name medicines under Section 708 of the misnamed Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) simply because the labels, which meet the requirements of the Tier One Country of Origin, are, according to the FDA, ‘mislabeled’;
·        Calls by PhRMA counsel for criminal actions against individuals personally importing their medicines, made in a statement in support of Section 708.
In closing, I applaud your continued concern in addressing the adverse impact of high prescription medicine prices upon Americans’ fiscal and physical health and well-being.  I urge you to enlarge the scope of this hearing to include the totality of the strategies employed by those who would limit access to vital medicines, leading to inevitable undesirable outcomes for the health of the American public.