Archive for October, 2017

Our Seniors

Posted by on October 30th, 2017

Many years ago American seniors would climb onto buses and take a trip across the border to Canada. They didn’t come here to see Niagara Falls, or the Rockies, they came to buy their prescription drugs. Back in the days before internet commerce, a physical trip north of the border was the only way to procure much needed and more affordable prescription drugs. We no longer get busloads of seniors crossing the border to get their drugs; internet e-commerce has moved much of that online.

Yet seniors still flock to us in droves; roughly 75% of our current customers are seniors. The fact is even with Medicare, even with Obamacare, even with patient assistance programs and generics people, seniors particularly, still struggle to afford prescription drugs. Seniors face particular challenges when it comes to out-of-pocket health care costs. Many of them are near or at the end of their working lives and are beginning to rely on savings, pensions and social security to live. Their incomes are more limited and less able to absorb sudden significant cost shifts. When drug companies jack up their prices without warning and reason, the costs are passed along to the end user. Considering that seniors represent a significant portion of prescription drug users, they bear a greater burden.

Increased cost sharing is often the result of higher drug prices. Its relationship with adherence is at best adverse. While cost sharing reduces costs for insurers, those savings are not passed along to consumers. What’s more, the more co-payments go up, the less prescription drugs are taken. A RAND study determined that for each doubling of co-pays prescription drug use was reduced between 25-45%! That reduction is not due to people getting better; that’s due to the drugs becoming unaffordable. Seniors aren’t safe from increased cost sharing and neither is anyone else.

This is why personal importation is so important. It gives seniors, and all Americans, the ability to access affordable, high quality prescription drugs. American seniors have been taking advantage of personal importation for many years and it has worked well for them. Big pharma has been trying to shut down personal importation for a long time. They prefer profits over anything, even if they come at the expense of a vulnerable person’s health. If you’d like to see if personal importation could save you a substantial amount of money visit us at or a call 1-800-226-3784.

Allergan’s New Gambit

Posted by on October 27th, 2017

Allergan, the company that made waves in the pharmaceutical industry by promising no more drug price hikes over 10%, has made waves again, but not in a good way. In an attempt to protect its Restasis patent it has offered to hand the patents over to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe for them to protect under the sovereign immunity protections granted them by US law. In exchange Allergan will have an exclusive licensing agreement to produce and sell Restasis while sending the tribe $15 million per year. Given Restasis generated $1.5 billion in sales last year alone, it’s a good deal all around. Though you might say Allergan is getting the better end of the bargain. This scheme protects the patent and it theoretically cannot be challenged by generic manufacturers.

This move was never envisioned by the framers of any patent legislation and it’s made Congress sit up and take notice. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has already introduced a bill to close this loophole. Allergan’s gambit could turn out to be nothing but an expensive PR misstep. Other pharmaceutical companies are no doubt watching this situation with interest. After all, if nothing ends up being done there is no doubt that other drug makers will follow suit; potentially making the introduction of generics a thing of the past.

PhRMA, the drug industry’s powerful lobby group, has not condemned this action, saying only it’s a consequence of the uncertainty the current legal environment creates for their patents. Pharmaceutical patents are among the most lucrative in the world and their easy renewal via small tweaks and changes means they can be renewed long after their initial expiration date. This latest use (or abuse) of the law to protect their bottom lines is indicative of just how far big pharma is willing to go to forestall cheaper generics. They want you paying high prices; they don’t want you to save money.

Take action today and checkout the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation. Add your voice to the thousands already calling out for prescription drug price relief.

More Are Spending $50,000+ On Prescription Drugs

Posted by on October 25th, 2017

The number of Americans who represent $50,000 of prescription drug spending nationally increased by over a third (35%) between 2014 and 2016. That’s not to say people are paying that much out-of-pocket. In general most of this is picked up by insurers, government, and other programs. But it’s concerning nonetheless. More people are falling into high spending categories meaning that prescription drug prices are not only very high but are climbing higher. It’s not only in the $50,000 category that we are seeing a population increase, but in other, higher brackets too. For example the number of people representing prescription drug costs ranging from $100,000-$199,000 increased 36%; the population representing costs of $1,000,000+ increased 100%!

These costs are borne largely by payers like government and health insurance programs. These increasingly high costs will, at some point, hit the level of becoming unsustainable. When that happens several things can happen; insurers will not be able to turn a profit and will withdraw or decrease their prescription drug coverage. Governments will do what they always tend to do, go deeper into debt. Either scenario leaves the average person on the hook through higher direct healthcare costs or taxes.

Never have prescription drug prices been part of the American political landscape more than now. Their astronomical costs have made them a top concern when it comes to healthcare. Congressional scrutiny has done little to reduce their costs. Various bills, including bills to allow the personal importation of prescription drugs, have stalled or not gone anywhere. Big pharma is working hard to keep it that way too. If you’re tired of paying high prices for your prescription drugs or know someone who is, please visit us at or call us at 1-800-226-3784.

Canada Drugs Kicks Off Annual United Way Campaign

Posted by on October 23rd, 2017

Today Canada Drugs kicked off its annual campaign to raise money for the United Way of Winnipeg. Over the past 13 years Canada Drugs has raised $400,000 for the United Way which has helped hundreds of people change their lives. In 2016 alone the money raised by our employees helped 58 youth living with mental health issues attend a band camp which teaches positive coping skills and fosters a sense of belonging among teens with mood disorders. We helped 71 unemployed, low income people receive on the job training and gain experience and new skills which can lead to steady work. Plus 76 adults were given instruction in reading and writing English in a community classroom close to their homes.

Our impact is increased by the fact that every dollar we raise is matched by our CEO Kris Thorkelson. Many different events organized by our United Way committee will provide opportunities for our employees to contribute to this important cause. This week’s events include: a silent auction, BINGO, Pizza Day, Photo Shoot Day, Massage Madness, Game Day and a bake sale. Our kickoff event started with a speech by our CEO and representatives of the United Way and programs they have funded. This year we heard from the executive director of Welcome Place, an organization that provides help and support to refugees recently arrived in Canada.

The partnership between Canada Drugs and the United Way has always been a beneficial one. Every dollar raised by our employees goes directly towards the programs and people they help. Administrative costs are covered by government funding. Canada Drugs continues to be enthusiastic about the opportunity to help so many people throughout our community. We hope our relationship with the United Way will continue to be strong and profitable for the community.





The Orphan Drug Program Needs Changing

Posted by on October 23rd, 2017

The orphan drug program was signed into law by President Reagan to encourage the development of drugs to treat rare diseases; generally diseases affecting 200,000 or less people. This was a practical R&D desert prior to the passage of the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. People with rare diseases simply had to suffer without much in the way of pharmaceutical intervention available to them. Since the passage of the act thousands of orphan drugs have been designated. Drug companies went from not producing any to producing many because the Act gives them favorable patent protections which make the production of such drugs not only financially viable, but lucrative as well.

The problem with the Orphan Drug Act is its vulnerability to abuse. The holy grail of the pharmaceutical industry is not necessarily a particular drug, but patents. Patents grant legal protections to intellectual property such as new inventions, or new designs for an old product, or new products, drugs included. Patents in the pharmaceutical world are some of the longest lasting and most profitable. Take Pfizer’s venerable ED drug Viagra. First patented in 1994 and approved by the FDA in 1998 it has generated over $25 billion in revenue, and that’s just in the years between 2003 and 2016; very profitable indeed. If Pfizer did not have a patent, competitors would have come along very early and driven down revenues substantially.

Pharmaceutical companies, being wealthy and able to afford top notch legal advice, realized the Orphan Drug Act could be used to their advantage. Instead of the altruism-sprinkled-with -capitalism the act was supposed to inspire, drug companies began getting non-orphan drugs designated as orphan drugs by finding orphan diseases they could treat, and thus gained more protections for their products. Examples of this include the cholesterol drug Crestor, the psychiatric drug Abilify, and the arthritis drug Humira, currently the best-selling drug in the world. These drugs were developed to treat relatively common conditions. But they were also found useful in treating some rare diseases, thus their makers could apply for orphan drug status. This is clearly an abuse of the program and not at all what its drafters intended.

New FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has indicated he wants to reform how the FDA deals out orphan drug designations. These new measures include eliminating application backlogs, changing the law to force drug makers to prove their drug is clinically superior to get the orphan drug status, and closing loopholes that didn’t require adult drugs receiving consideration to be pediatric orphan drugs to be actually tested in children. While these moves have been praised by experts, you might not be so sure. After all, why should a drug as common as Crestor get orphan drug status when its use and availability are so ubiquitous? Orphan drug status should be reserved for truly orphan diseases. Medications which are available anyways should not be given orphan drug status, even if they treat a rare illness.  This would help keep prices down and encourage the development of generic competitors.

As it stand orphan drugs are among the most expensive drugs. Patients, insurers and families have a difficult time paying for them. So unless the FDA closes the loophole that lets already approved, common drugs be designated orphan drugs, with increased patent protections, there’s very little chance this will affect pricing.