Archive for May, 2010

The Cost of Brand Name Drugs Rose 9.7% Last Year

Posted by on May 28th, 2010

The average price for popular name brand name drugs like Lipitor, Plavix, Zocor, Nexium and specialty prescription drugs used to treat cancer and other major diseases most used by Medicare beneficiaries rose faster than other consumer goods and services in the 12 months ending March 2010, according to a report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

This is the highest spike in retiree drug prices observed since the AARP began their tracking of drug prices in 2002. The average annual cost for a single brand name medication was about $2,190 and individuals using three brand name prescriptions paid $6,580. The majority of the 219 brand name drugs in the study (88 percent) increased in price between April 2009 and March 2010.

The report found that all of the top 25 brand-name prescription drugs had higher prices in the last year. Here’s a list of the top 10, with manufacturer and percent change in manufacturer’s price:

  • Nexium – AstraZeneca – 7.4%
  • Plavix – Bristol-Myers Squibb – 10.5%
  • Prevacid – Takeda – 8.1%
  • Protonix – Wyeth – 9.3%
  • Lipitor (20mg) – Pfizer – 5.5%
  • Lipitor (10mg) – Pfizer – 5.5%
  • Aricept – Eisai – 13.9%
  • Fosamax – Merck – 6.7%
  • Norvasc – Pfizer — 5.0%
  • Advair – GlaxoSmithKline — 7.0%

AARP’s Public Policy Institute also found that prices for specialty drugs—a group of drugs which includes biologic and injected drugs that are often used by Medicare beneficiaries to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other serious chronic conditions—climbed 9.2%, or nearly as fast as brand name drugs. Specialty drug costs can range in cost from $1,000 to more than $20,000 per month for American’s paying out of pocket for the medication necessary to keep them alive.

The prices of generic drugs, though, fell by 9.7% during the 12 months. Canada Drugs, Canadian Pharmacy offers our patients a generic alternative wherever possible to present our customers with the choice of saving money over the more expensive brand prescriptions.

Forbes Magazine Lists the Most Popular Prescription Medication

Posted by on May 25th, 2010

This month’s issue of Forbes Magazine had an article that listed the most prescribed prescription medication in the United States in 2009. As in past years, the list is dominated not by the latest brand name medications from the big pharmaceutical companies, but by older medications that are now generically manufactured.

The full Forbes list can be found here. Overall, 6 of the top 15 most prescribed meds are blood-pressure-lowering drugs. Forbes comments that “There are so many good generic blood pressure drugs that it is difficult for brand-name drugmakers to improve upon them.” Canada Drugs, Canadian Pharmacy carries versions of most of these medications, a significant discount to the prices available in U.S pharmacies.

  1. Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (painkiller) (Note: this medication is a narcotic/controlled substance)
  2. Simvastatin (high cholesterol)
  3. Lisinopril (high blood pressure)
  4. Levothyroxine sodium (thyroid disorders)
  5. Azithromycin (antibiotic)
  6. Metformin (diabetes)
  7. Lipitor (high cholesterol)
  8. Amlodipine (high blood pressure)
  9. Amoxicillin (antibiotic)
  10. Hydrochlorothiazide (high blood pressure)

FDA Moves to Curb Dishonest Big Pharma Advertising

Posted by on May 17th, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in the media last week that they are launching a program to encourage doctors to report misleading and confusing drug advertisements as Big Pharma continues to spend billions of dollars every year on marketing and advertisements, while charging Americans the highest drug prices in the world.

The agency’s “Bad Ad Program” urges doctors to report ads and sales pitches that violate FDA rules. Drug companies are legally required to present a balanced picture of a drug’s benefits and risks in promotions, though critics charge that many TV and magazine ads fail to do so. According to their website:

Prescription drug advertising must:

  • Be accurate
  • Balance the risk and benefit information
  • Be consistent with the prescribing information approved by FDA
  • Only include information that is supported by strong evidence from clinical studies

The FDA says that the most common Big Pharma ad violations are:

  • Omitting or downplaying of risk
  • Overstating the effectiveness
  • Promoting off-label, or unapproved, uses
  • Misleading drug comparisons

Drugmakers spend about $20 billion per year to promote their products in various mediums, ranging from medical journal ads and information booths at conferences to multimillion dollar TV campaigns. The enormous cost of this marketing is than passed onto American consumers who pay for that $20 billion through inflated prescription drug costs. Consumers who turn to a Canadian Pharmacy, like Canada Drugs  are able to take advantage of lower prices because Canada and other jurisdictions have much lower prices, and one of the reasons, amongst many, is that countries like Canada have different advertising rules that limits Big Pharma ads and means less inflated prices to cover marketing costs.

When you see ads for prescriptions drugs on TV or in your favorite magazine it’s always best to consult your doctor before buying into all the claims that are made. Quite often the advertisement is pushing an expensive brand medication, when there are generic alternatives available at a significant price difference. Be a smart consumer and just like advertisements for ketchup or laundry soap, it’s best to take them with a grain of salt and not always buy into all their claims are true before doing some research for yourself.

World Asthma Day

Posted by on May 10th, 2010

World Asthma Day 2010 took place on last week on Tuesday, May 4. The theme of World Asthma Day 2010 was “You Can Control Your Asthma.” World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in collaboration with health care groups and asthma educators to raise awareness about asthma and improve asthma care throughout the world. In addition, GINA plants to launch a campaign to reduce asthma hospitalizations worldwide by 50% in the next 5 years. Asthma is one of the country’s most common and costly diseases with an estimated annual cost of $18 billion, according to the American Lung Association. Asthma accounts for nearly 17 million physician office and hospital visits and nearly 2 million emergency room visits each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Spring and the early summer months often pose additional challenges for the more than 23 million Americans — including more than 7 million children — who live with asthma. According to allergy and asthma experts, 2010 may be particularly difficult for those with asthma, as plants and trees are producing more pollen and spores than is common, due to greater levels of precipitation that fell this winter in many parts of the United States.

Asthma experts caution that no two people suffer from asthma the same way and that the best way to cope with the disease is to understand your asthma and what kind of triggers tend to lead to attacks in you. Some people find that indoor factors are the key trigger; while in others it is outdoor factors that help cause an attack. Many doctors suggest that a journal that tracks triggers can help people who suffer from asthma better manage to lower the number and severity of attacks.

Besides working to manage asthma through understanding the disease, it is also key for those on medication to use their maintenance medication and rescue inhalers properly. A study showed that up to half of people with doctor’s prescriptions for asthma medication are not properly using them because of concerns over the price of their prescriptions. Canada Drugs Canadian Pharmacy sells many of the most common asthma related prescription like Advair Diskus for up to 50% off of what it is sold for in many U.S retail outlets. Generic equivalents of both inhalers and maintenance medication are also available through our online pharmacy and can help you realize even greater cost savings.

Finding Health Information Online

Posted by on May 7th, 2010

Dr. Rahul K. Parikh, a practicing physician and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area wrote an interesting article last week that was published in the online magazine Salon. Dr. Parikh commented on the positives and negatives that the internet brings to patients looking for online health information where millions of articles, resources, blogs, studies and other sources of info are only a Google search away.

Parik’s commentary originated from a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine where Harvard doctors Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband wrote that while the internet has empowered patients to learn more about their health and has offered them sources of information that even 50 years trained doctors would have had difficulty accessing, this glut of information also has tended to overload many patients, causing undue worry and damaging traditional doctor/patient relationships.

Dr. Parikh, while supportive of patients becoming better informed about their health, suggests that the most important thing to remember when surfing the internet for health resources, is “Don’t Panic”. He writes that he has seen many patients Google themselves into a state of paranoia over misunderstandings of what their symptoms are and settling on the most catastrophic conclusions. While the internet can be an excellent starting point to understand more about your health, it is still best to consult your own doctor and other trained medical professionals. Even Canada Drugs, trained and licensed pharmacists, from our Canadian pharmacy are available for phone consultations and can answer questions about your prescriptions needs by phone or over email.

A final thing to keep in mind when using the internet to search for health information is that not all information is equal. Some resources are more credible than others and it’s always best to look for credible, independent sources of information. The National Library of Medicine has an excellent online tutorial that you can use to learn more about how to best judge which online sources are better than others.