Archive for May, 2017

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Posted by on May 31st, 2017

Today was Gardening Day at Canada Drugs. Our employees spent the morning replanting our raised garden in the back of our building. We also stepped into the future as well. A state-of-the-art hydroponic garden was installed in our lunch room. Both these gardens should provide delicious, organic produce for us to enjoy throughout the summer.

The Digital Black Market for Prescription Drugs

Posted by on May 17th, 2017

The incredible prices being charged for prescription drugs have driven people to dangerous behaviors.  It has caused them to skip their medications, take less than prescribed or even not fill their prescriptions. It has forced people to consider taking expired pills. These are dangerous behaviors. They can lead to chronic conditions running out of control; they can lead to hospitalization or even, in the worst circumstances, death. Yet coping with high drug costs has taken on a digital dimension.

People are now taking to Facebook groups to seek and exchange their own medication for the medication they need. NBC recently documented this here. While the article focuses primarily on insulin, it also says that EpiPens, asthma inhalers, and other medications are being traded too. Participants post their need for a particular drug and people who have that drug can give to that person. They can also exchange medications with each other.

While on the surface this might seem like a good idea, it can be very dangerous. The drugs being exchanged are not dispensed by a pharmacist to the end user; there is no need for a prescription to participate either. The drugs could be expired or contaminated. But these are the lengths people are being driven to by big pharma’s greed. Their response to NBC on this issue only goes to show how disconnected they are from their patients. In response to news that the price of its Humalog insulin had just jumped 8% Eli Lilly’s spokesman said this, “The net price increase that Lilly recognizes is significantly less.” Another spokesperson deflected the criticism and the blame to insurance companies, “those enrolled in high-deductible insurance plans and managing chronic conditions face challenges in gaining reasonable access to the treatments they need.”

PhRMA, the drug industry’s powerful and secretive lobby group, ignored the problem completely, “Robust negotiations between biopharmaceutical companies and insurers result in significant rebates and discounts.” Obviously these negotiations are not robust enough and the discounts are not significant enough to make these drugs available to everyone who needs them. Black markets occur when an item is in demand but is too expensive, or impossible, to obtain legally.

This is precisely why the personal importation of prescription drugs needs to be made available to all Americans. While insulin is difficult to reliably ship due to the need to keep it within a specific temperature range, other drugs can be readily supplied. Canada Drugs has helped hundreds of thousands of people afford their medications and reduce their out of pocket costs. We don’t want people to have to go to strangers on the internet to get their prescription medications.

We value the relationships we establish with our patients. It allows us to conduct the due diligence needed to ensure you get the medications you need. We have pharmacists who review every order and prescription. They provide counselling to patients and ensure that the medications we provide are of the highest quality. We have high safety standards at Canada Drugs. Our prices are often 60-90% lower than at your local pharmacy. So please, before you think of looking to a black market on Facebook for your medications, call us first. We may be able to provide you with the medication you need at a price you can afford, without having to worry about safety.

Pharma Lobby Membership Changes Do Nothing for Accountability

Posted by on May 15th, 2017

A rumor is rumbling in some quarters of the internet that big pharma’s lobby group, called PhRMA, is considering changing its membership rules. Among the proposed changes are a requirement that member companies must spend at least $200 million per year on research and development (based on a three year average), and must show that research spending equals 10% or more of their global sales. Is it a meaningful change or a shell game?

We pointed out back in March that Pharma tends to spend more on sales and marketing than on R&D. Yet if you examine the list of companies dealt with in that article you’ll find that most of them already meet the standards in their proposed new membership rules.  Of the companies in that list, 13 are members of PhRMA already, and 12 of those 13 meet the new rules. If you use this list as a sample of PhRMA’s 40 members you’ll find that the membership rule change doesn’t do much to affect change. It’s unlikely many, if any; members would be expelled if these changes were to come into effect.

“There’s no great accountability being proposed here. It’s simply a shell game.”

It seems it’s just another media friendly gesture to change the pharmaceutical industry’s image. Superficiality is the hallmark of attempts like this; a change on the surface while the status quo continues on steadily underneath. It’s good politics if no one notices. It is in pharma’s best interest to be “held accountable” by an organization it funds, controls and is therefore friendly to the industry.

It’s designed to keep the big guys big and powerful and keep the little guys out. Smaller pharmaceutical companies who spend a great deal of their money on research, but don’t spend $200 million are excluded under these new rules. If you need more proof, PhRMA currently has a tiered membership structure that lets small companies join for a lesser rate. That’s being eliminated under the new rules. It’s often small pharmaceutical start-ups with comparatively small budgets and revenues who do the most innovative work in researching and developing new drugs. Usually the big pharma companies buy out the smaller ones and take the credit, and profit, for their work.

PhRMA has released a list of companies who are no longer with it as of January 1, 2017. These companies no longer meet the new bylaw requirements for membership. Yet all the big guys are still there. They are still arbitrarily raising prices and PhRMA isn’t doing anything to rein that behavior in. The big companies which form the organization’s bread and butter, the ones that can contribute tens of millions of dollars each year, are still in. They will always be in. There’s no great accountability being proposed here. Many of these companies were kicked out because they embarrassed the industry and couldn’t fix it fast enough. It’s simply a shell game.

Pharma’s Shell Game

Posted by on May 11th, 2017

In the debate about opening drug importation how many average, grassroots Americans have come forward in the media to oppose it? You probably can’t recall many, or even any, and neither can we. The opposition has come in the form of current and former lobbyists for the drug industry. It has come from so-called grassroots groups with connections (financial and/or political) to the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical lobbyists. They oppose it because importation threatens their bottom lines. More consumer choice means potentially less money in pharma’s pockets.

The institutional opponents of importation use a variety of lines to try and scare Americans away from the idea. However they’re already behind the times. One of the most over-the-top, and most revealing comments from importation opponents is this: “These drugs are manufactured in jungles, in tin drums, in basements. … Those are the sort of sanitary conditions we’re talking about here.” That was from George Karavetsos, former director of the Office of Criminal Investigations at the FDA characterizing all online pharmacies as rogues. Yet it’s unfair to those online pharmacies who act in an ethical and transparent manner. Plus considering that Canadians get their medication from the same companies and same manufacturing plants as the US, it’s pretty farfetched. Canadians are not taking prescription drugs made in jungles and are not dropping dead from them by the busload. In case you’re thinking we’re taking this out of context, read the linked article. From the context presented he was talking about all imported drugs.

If you’re buying your medications from internet pharmacies that require no prescription, have no pharmacists, no certifications and no licenses, you should be concerned. However there’s a variety of legitimate, certified, licensed and safe pharmacies you can trust – Canada Drugs is one of them. The Kaiser Family Foundation did a poll which showed that 19 million Americans imported prescription drugs for personal use from online pharmacies or by going abroad in 2016. Americans have been importing prescription drugs from countries like Canada for many years. Americans who have taken advantage of lower prices in Canada know the drugs are safe as long as they’re procured from licensed pharmacies. To date there have been no known adverse consequences for any patient ordering medications from licensed and CIPA certified Canadian pharmacies. Big pharma’s scare tactics have proven not to be a deterrent to Americans taking advantage of personal importation.

An article recently appearing on NPR laid out the connections between so-called grassroots organizations and big pharma. It just goes to show how far these big corporations will go to stamp out anything they feel is a threat to their power and influence. A letter sent to congress opposing personal prescription drug importation was signed by 64 organizations including one with only one volunteer. There are others who are run by the same person. Suddenly what appeared to be an impressive array of opponents is less impressive and more suspect. Don’t be fooled by big pharma’s bluster and intrigues. Personal prescription importation has helped, and continues to help, millions of Americans save money on their prescription drugs. You can help keep personal importation available to every American. Write your senator and congressman and tell them you want personal importation to remain available to every American. You can also join the grassroots Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation.

The Second Largest State in the Union…And it’s not Texas (Sorry Texas)

Posted by on May 9th, 2017

Nearly 30 million people in the US skip doses or don’t fill their prescriptions due simply to cost. According to numbers published by the AARP, half of Americans are using, or have used, at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days. Of those, 19% are struggling in some way to afford them. To put that into context this is the equivalent of the populations of the 15 largest cities in the United States. If all these non-adherents were to form their own state, it would be second largest state in the union!

To us the numbers are concerning and significant, and they probably are for you too. In a country as wealthy and advanced as the US, no one should have to go without lifesaving or health maintaining drugs. Big pharma’s high price excuses are well known:

  • High prices are necessary to pay for the next generation of drug R&D (debunked here)
  • Drugs from Canada are unsafe.
  • Importing drugs from abroad means importing price controls too.
  • Importing drugs from other countries will force pharma to export higher prices there too.
  • The majority of costs are covered by insurers/government programs.

We dealt with several of these a while ago here. But excuses are not effective anymore because the American people are savvy enough to see through them. Thus big pharma and its lobbyists have launched a massive public relations campaign worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This campaign contains traditional strategies, i.e. ads on radio, TV, in print and on the internet. It also contains more surreptitious strategies, for example, setting up grassroots groups that are actually made up of lobbyists, pharma reps, and other vested interests.

The pharma lobby is pushing hard against any effort to change the status quo. Americans deserve pricing relief and can’t let highly paid, faceless lobbyists deprive them of the change they deserve. You can take action today. It can start with the simple action of writing your senator and congressman and sharing your experience with high drugs prices with them. Tell your representatives you want them to support personal importation when it comes to a vote in congress.

You can also checkout the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation. Unlike pharma’s lobbyist funded and staffed “grassroots” groups, CPPI is truly a David fighting Goliath. While big pharma funds fake grassroots organizations to make it look like Americans are opposed to importation, CPPI is a small group supported by everyday people who are frustrated and not willing to take it anymore. CPPI advocates for the immediate opening of personal importation to every American. Take a moment and add your voice to the thousands who have already come forward. Your personal testimony is the most powerful tool you have to make change happen.