Archive for September, 2016

Medical Expenses Still Drive Up Poverty

Posted by on September 28th, 2016

AltersarmutDespite the success of Obamacare and the expansion of government medical programs like Medicaid and Medicare, out of pocket medical costs still force people into poverty. According to the US Census Bureau 11.2 million people fell below the poverty line in 2015 due directly to out of pocket medical expenses. This drove up the supplemental poverty rate by 3.5%. Interestingly this is occurring while the number of people without health insurance has declined. Currently 45.6 million people in total live below the poverty line in the US.

The traditional measurement of poverty was established in the 1960s. It was originally set at three times the cost of food (pegged at 30% of income) then adjusted for the rate of inflation. It takes into account wages and government benefits like social security. However it does not take into account programs like food stamps and certain tax credits or changes in spending habits, taxes, work expenses, or medical expenses and is not adjusted for changes in the standard of living. This means the poverty rate you’re used to hearing about is inaccurate at best.

In addition to the traditional poverty rate, the Census Bureau releases another figure called the supplemental poverty measure or (SPM). The SPM is a modern and more accurate measure of poverty. It takes into account not only food costs but clothing, shelter and utilities as well. It also accounts for income not just taking into account cash income from work or government programs, but also taxes, work expenses, medical expenses, and geographic differences in housing costs. The result usually ends up being a poverty level slightly higher than the traditional standard.

This number may be shocking but it hasn’t really changed in recent years. It just continues to show that for millions of Americans particularly those living on low incomes, medical costs continue to be a major financial burden. One way to reduce this burden is personal importation. By ordering prescription medications from reputable online pharmacies Americans can at least reduce the financial burden of high drug prices and save money. People should not fall into poverty due to medical expenses.

Access to Prescription Drugs is a Human Right

Posted by on September 26th, 2016

Man holding cardboard paper with HUMAN RIGHTS title, conceptual image
The UN and WHO consider the right to health to be a fundamental human right. An entitlement of this right is access to essential medications. Prescription drugs play an essential role in helping millions of people maintain their health and access to them has too often been beyond the reach of many.

The United States, despite being the largest and most advanced economy in the world, has a longstanding problem ensuring access to prescription drugs for everyone who needs them. The problem is not availability – the US has a large and stable drug supply chain – but price. The United States has the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. For a long time, Americans didn’t have much help from their government and, despite the introduction of Obamacare, resulting in the number of uninsured Americans being the lowest in decades, Americans stills struggle with the high cost of prescription drugs. The recognition that everyone has a right to health and that prescription drugs are a fundamental element of the ability to exercise that right will hopefully help bolster efforts to improve access to prescription drugs in the US.

For years Canada Drugs has assisted people in getting the medication they need at a price they can afford. All too often the ability of people to control their health conditions has been compromised by lack of access due to high prices. The advent of Obamacare may have provided more people with health insurance, but the type of insurance many people are buying requires high out of pocket expenditure before benefits kick in.

What is the solution? How can the spirit of this UN resolution be realized? It’s simple; Congress can open access to the personal importation of prescription drugs to all Americans and allow them to order their personal medication from safe online pharmacies outside the US. That would give every American the ability to find the best prices possible on the highest quality medications. Check out the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation and add your voice to the thousands who have already called for Congress to make personal importation fully available to everyone.

Allergan’s Gambit

Posted by on September 23rd, 2016

U turn road warning sign against the sky
Brent Saunders, CEO of drug giant Allergan, has responded to the outrage over the high price of the EpiPen by saying government regulation of drug prices is not the answer to the problem of high prescription drug prices. Rather he’s calling on the industry to police itself. As an example to others, he has established a so-called “social contract” with consumers. In this contract Saunders promised that Allergan would not raise prices more than once per year and would limit increases to single digit percentages. While Saunders’ stance is admirable and demonstrates that pharmaceutical executives can have a social conscience, it’s questionable as to whether this would have happened if the EpiPen firestorm hadn’t erupted.

Despite their change of heart, Allergan’s pronouncement comes after years of multiple double-digit price hikes on many of its drugs. In 2013 Allergan hiked the prices on its top products, 75% of them saw hikes of 10% or more. In 2014 and 2015 the average price hikes on its top products averaged 17%. Allergan’s top products include Botox, Restasis (used to treat dry eyes) and Namenda (used to treat Alzheimer’s). Given these facts, it would be understandable if consumers would be skeptical.

It’s not yet known whether this decision by Allergan will become permanent policy. Allergan’s CEO seems sincere in his promise, yet it comes with the caveat that there may be some exceptions. Saunders is not the first pharma CEO to make such a promise. In 1993, Merck CEO Roy Vagelos promised to hold price increases to no more than 1% above the inflation rate. Needless to say it didn’t last long. Self-policing is not the panacea the industry would want us to believe it is.

So where does this leave the consumer? In effect this does nothing about the current problem of high drug prices. Allergan has not promised to lower drug prices, merely to temper their prices increases. Self-policing doesn’t solve the issue at hand; prescription drug prices are still too high. At best this is a half solution.

The personal importation of prescription drugs is an actual solution to this problem and would be immediately effective. Thanks to the public outcry surrounding EpiPen prices, greater attention has been brought to the savings that allowing prescription drug importation can provide to those struggling with the high cost of medication. Congress needs to open up this option for all Americans. Add your voice to the growing number of Americans calling for change.  Contact your senator or congressperson and tell them that the personal importation of prescription drugs is important and is the only way you can get the medication you need at affordable prices.

America Caught in the Middle

Posted by on September 21st, 2016

CompetitionBig Pharma and health insurance companies have spent many years lobbing accusations back and forth, each assigning the other the lion’s share of the blame for high prescription drug prices and increasing healthcare costs. A recent news release by the pharmaceutical industry’s lobby group PhRMA is one of the latest shots in this battle. PhRMA says that the main driver of health insurance premium increases is higher cost hospital spending not prescription drugs prices as the insurers claim. PhRMA contends that health insurance companies have taken advantage of the recent uproar over high drug prices to justify their premium increases this year.

In the past PhRMA has also said insurance companies bear the blame for higher out of pocket costs because they’ve moved a greater portion of the costs onto consumers through higher deductibles and premiums. Insurers, on the other hand insist that it’s not about scapegoating big pharma but it simply is a fact that drug prices are a big factor in rate increases. A spokesman for Blue Shield stated in the Standard Examiner, “We are not using any sleight of hand to justify rate increases…Our numbers reflect what we’re experiencing in the market, not some national average or trend. We’re seeing a dramatic inflation in cost for run-of-the-mill drugs like EpiPen.”

Big Pharma and the health insurers live in a bubble; arguing back and forth about who is to blame for the high drug prices in the United States while ignoring the need of Americans for access to safe, affordable medication.The fact is while insurers and drug makers argue, both use high drug prices to pad their bottom lines. They’re disconnected from the public they exist to serve. Like always, when large health organizations fight, it’s the sick and vulnerable that get caught in the middle and end up having to pay.

A Breakfast Celebration at Canada Drugs

Posted by on September 19th, 2016

Canada Drugs recently held a breakfast celebration for its employees as a thank-you for the hard work they have been doing in the past few weeks. The menu included delicious sausages and pancakes with maple syrup, fruit and juice. Breakfasts, among other events, are held throughout the year at Canada Drugs to celebrate milestones and thank our employees for their dedication and hard work. The food is prepared and served by our management team. Needless to say, it’s an event we all enjoy!

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