Archive for September, 2012

Metformin: Is this cheap diabetes drug a new affordable cancer drug?

Posted by on September 28th, 2012

Metformin, the most commonly used medicine to lower blood- sugar, and the seventh most prescribed prescription medication in the United States is the subject of about 50 studies globally on it’s effectiveness of treating breast, colon, prostate and other leading cancer types.

The drug could be a cheap weapon in battling cancer, but the current studies that are measuring it’s effectiveness are not being supported by Big Pharma, and are instead being run by government and non-profit groups including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Cancer Research UK. The reason that Big Pharma is not interested in speeding up the clinical testing process is because metformin has been available since the mid 1950’s and is off patent, making it impossible for them to turn a profit if the initial studies showing it’s cancer battling effectiveness can be proven.

Metformin has long been known as an effective therapy for Type 2 diabetes and is prescribed to hundreds of thousands of Americans’ to lower there blood glucose levels by inhibiting the hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 has been shown to have a role in cancer development in clinical studies and the studies done so far on diabetics show that 20 percent fewer cases of cancer exists in diabetics taking metformin compared to the general population.

An excellent overview of the various studies typing metformin to lower cancer rates were published by Bloomberg News this week.

With cancer cases growing worldwide and many drugs now costing tens of thousands of dollars, a cheap treatment option like metformin would be of a huge benefit in lowering medical costs. February. Cancer costs totaled $124.6 billion in the U.S. alone in 2010, according to the National Cancer Institute. But scientists who wanted to investigate metformin’s role as a cancer drug over a decade ago were unable to get clinical funding when one drug company realized it’s patent would be expired before the clinical studies were complete.

The cost of drug research and clinical trials is one of the justifications that Big Pharma uses to defend the U.S consumer paying more for medication than anyone else in the world. But it’s clear in cases like the promising data around metformin, that these same companies are reluctant to spend even a tiny fraction of their clinical budget to support research into older drugs that they can’t make massive profits on.

Share your thoughts on this story here on our blog or comment on our Facebook page.

Should Medicare’s Eligibility Age Be Raised?

Posted by on September 24th, 2012

With millions of baby boomers aging and quickly heading into retirement, this years election cycle is seeing a lot of discussion about Medicare and it’s long term financial prognosis. Spending on the program is growing so fast so quickly that it is threatening the health of the U.S. economy and the future of how American rapidly growing population of seniors is going to a major policy challenge over the coming decade.

One policy idea and one proposed solution to the Medicare problem is to raise the eligibility age gradually to 67 from 65. Those that support this idea point to the fact that Americans are living longer now than they did when Medicare began in 1966, and that the new health-care law will ensure that older Americans have access to affordable insurance even if they can’t get coverage through an employer because they are retired.

When people first began receiving Medicare benefits in 1966, the average 65-year-old old lived another 15 years; today that figure is 20 years. With this increase of life expectancy, Medicare costs have grown 14-fold since the program started.

On the opposition side, those against a increase to Medicare make the argument that making Americans wait two extra years to get Medicare would be unfair to the poor, increase the ranks of the uninsured and possibly end up costing Americans more than it saves them.

The argument on increased costs states that while the two year increase in eligibility would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars, most of this cost savings would be clawed back by increased spending on Medicaid, as more younger retires would claim disability, as well it would see an increase in subsidy spending, more contributions form employers to cover the extra two years, driving premiums up, and finally even greater out-of-pockets costs forced onto seniors.

An excellent overview on both sides of this debate was published in the Wall Street Journal last week. Maya MacGuineas and Aaron E. Carroll published arguments for and against the increase to 67.

At Canada Drugs, Canadian Pharmacy, we watch this debate closely because we see everyday the struggles that seniors face when trying to afford the medication they need to live. An increase to 67, without corresponding changes  to expanding how seniors are covered by insurance plans could force even more Americans to struggle to afford medication until benefits kick in. Even under the current Medicare Part-D coverage, there are significant gaps that result in large out-of-pockets costs. The reality is, that with drug costs rising every year, no matter how Medicare is reformed, many seniors will fall through the cracks and be faced with drug bills they can’t afford. The ability to safely import lower cost medication from Canada and other first tier nations will continue to be an affordable way for seniors at age 64, or 65 or 67 to save on their health care costs.

Please comment in our comment section or on our Facebook page about what an increase of Medicare eligibility would mean for you and your family.

Thank You for making your voices heard on your right to affordable medication

Posted by on September 7th, 2012

During the last few weeks of August, and, a national coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to raising awareness and spurring action around safe prescription drug importation worked tougher to raise awareness about changes to the FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA).

Signed into law on July 9th, 2012 the bill had language that gives government agencies the right to seize and destroy prescription drugs imported for personal use. Currently there is the ability to import up to a 90-day supply of prescription medication for personal use. Millions of Americans’ take advantage of lower international drug prices to order their life saving medication from Canada and have done so for over 10 years. But the FDASIA could threaten that.

We urged all of the patients that have safely ordered from since 2001 to let the Obama White House know that they disagree with the wording in FDASIA and attempts by Big Pharma to make it impossible to find an alternative to the high drug prices they impose on Americans.

Over 10,000 of you visited the We the People Petition and made your voice heard. We didn’t quite reach the threshold of signatures in the allotted amount of time to direct the petition to the White House directly, but it was still important to gather the voices we did.

Canada Drugs and groups like will continue to fight for your rights and we urge you to stay involved and stay connected to what RxRights is doing in Washington to make sure that people who count on safe, affordable prescription importing are not ignored. Big Pharma spends billions to have their voices heard, but the millions of Americans who can’t afford medication are more powerful in the end, and their voices will echo to those in power if we unite.

At, we want to thank all you that signed the petition and congratulations to Margaret Benson who won a $100 prize for signing and helping share the petition to her friends during the blitz we ran through our call centre during the last week of August.