Friday, August 26, 2011

A call for a common sense approach to personal importation of prescription medicines and access to safety, savings, and improved health

The publisher of a leading informational website on aging issues says that personal importation by Americans of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines from Tier One countries remains a primary option to reduce the cost of medicines in the U.S.

Tier One countries are those defined as having standards of safety, efficacy and quality, of prescription medicines and pharmacies and oversight that meets or exceeds those of the U.S.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) has recently launched a series of initiatives that call for greater cooperation with regulatory agencies in other countries regarding importation of ingredients into the U.S. for pharmaceutical manufacture,” says Daniel Hines, Publisher of www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com and a series of related websites on aging and health issues.

“This indicates the FDA is both willing , and has the power to act to enact such agreements."

He also points to the role of personal importation in reducing the crushing burden of prescription medicine costs in the U.S.

“In a recent interview with Kaiser Health Report, former Senator John Danforth (R-MO) cited the cost of health care as the major problem facing the newly formed ‘Super Committee’ of Representatives and Senators as they must consider recommendations to address the country’s fiscal crisis,” he says.

“The pricing practices of Pharma have been major drivers of the governmental and personal fiscal crises facing the country by spurring the cost of healthcare by raising prescription medicine prices at a rate exceeding inflation and have likely led to bogus internet sources springing up as Americans seek relief from excessive prices ,” Hines says.

“That’s why personal importation of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines has passed the U.S. Congress under two administrations over the past 10 years, but the bills which would have established additional safety procedures were made inoperable by the extensive lobbying of Pharma that imposed ‘poison pill’ amendments.

“Deterring the activities of bogus sourcing of prescription medicines and to protect the safety of Americans is commendable and is reflected in the operating credo of those services that have created and adhere to standards of safety, efficacy and quality.

“Americans should not confuse the ability for safe implementation of personal importation that might exist in light of the recent Google settlement regarding internet pharmacy advertising.

”We call on the FDA to extend its new approach towards possible reciprocity and cooperative agreements with agencies, especially those in Tier One Countries, as a means to lower prescription medicine prices in the U.S., thereby contributing to the already proven record of safety, efficacy and quality from medicines being personally imported into the U.S.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Barrier to effective treatment for seniors - the cost of medicine... Elderly in the US find medication costs prohibitive


Publisher's Note: While Congress slaps itself on its collective back, the fact remains that no concrete steps have been taken to apply real-life solutions to problems such as the cost of prescription medicines, a major driver of our health care cost crisis which is a prime factor in the fiscal crisis the country faces. The question must be asked: Where are the Senators and Congressmen who have sponsored bill after bill in support of personal importation of prescription medicines? We have noted in previous entries that they have missed an obvious opportunity to advance lower medical costs by not bringing concrete proposals forth. And, ironically, while hailing the effectiveness of Part D, this latest report shows that even with Part D 'benefits', 10 percent or more of America's elderly cannot afford their medicines.

August 2, 2011--As many as one in ten elderly people in the US, registered with Medicare, do not stick to their prescribed medication because it is too expensive, according to Dr. Larissa Nekhlyudov and colleagues from Harvard Medical School. Their work, funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute, shows that cost-related medication non-adherence - skipping pills to make the medicine last longer, and not filling in a prescription because it is too expensive - is common among this group, whether or not they suffer from cancer.

This suggests that elderly cancer survivors do not face a greater financial burden related to medical costs than those without cancer. The study is published online in Springer's Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

As the population ages, the cost of medicines is rising and there is evidence that this has resulted in financial burden for patients. Cancer costs in particular have grown substantially and patients with cancer are faced with significant out-of-pocket expenses during diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. Many cancer survivors also take drugs for other chronic illnesses (or co-morbidities), including hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and osteoporosis.

In order to better understand cancer patients' medication issues, the authors analyzed data from the 2005 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey and Medicare claims. They looked at cost-related medication non-adherence, spending less on basic needs to afford medicines and other cost-reduction strategies among both cancer survivors and non-cancer sufferers.

Nekhlyudov and team found no differences in the rate of cost-related non-adherence between cancer survivors (10 percent) and those without cancer (11 percent). Six percent of cancer survivors and nine percent of those without cancer also said they spent less on basic needs (such as food and heat) so that they could afford medicines. In addition, more than half of all enrollees used other cost-saving measures, including taking generic medications, requesting free samples and comparing pharmacy prices before buying drugs.

Dr. Nekhlyudov concludes: "As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase and get older, the findings of our study enhance our understanding of the potential barriers to effective treatment of their non-cancer co-morbidities."