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International & Canadian Online Pharmacies: A Vital Resource for Millions of Americans

November 19, 2019

high drug prices

Capsules and tablets

For many Americans, the healthcare situation in the United States is dire. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, health care costs have been on the rise for decades now — both for insurers and for the insured. As a result, people have been looking for ways to cut their out-of-pocket costs, and in many cases their prescription drugs are some of the first on the chopping block.

What many Americans struggling under the weight of extreme prescription drug costs may not realize is that there are reputable international and Canadian online pharmacies that can help them save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year on their medications.

Customers of NorthWestPharmacy.com will often cite our low prices as the biggest benefit of our services. In fact, the cost is often a main motivator behind ordering their medication through a reputable online Canadian pharmacy or international provider. For millions of Americans today, these savings are more than just beneficial — they are literally vital to their survival.

The Stratospheric Rise of Prescription Drug Costs

Like many other consumer goods, the price of prescription drugs has been increasing gradually over the past few decades. However, in the past decade, those increases have become unreasonable and dramatic.

In January 2019, the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) released a report on diabetes costs between 2012 and 2016. In the report, researchers "found a rapid increase in total health care spending, driven by gross spending on insulin that doubled over the period."

According to their data, Type-1 diabetes patients paid an average of $2,864 annually on insulin in 2012. By December of 2016, they were spending an average of $5,705 annually — an increase of literally 99%.

While many drug companies claim the prices are increasing because of new (and more expensive) treatment options becoming available, or improvements to existing treatments, research shows this is generally false. The medical journal Health Affairs published a study in January 2019 which found that between 2008 and 2016, "The costs of oral and injectable brand-name drugs increased annually by 9.2 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively, largely driven by existing drugs."

While they did find some truth to price increases due to new treatment options, this effect was largely segregated to specialty drugs and generics. According to the report, "The rising costs of generic and specialty drugs were mostly driven by new product entry, whereas the rising costs of brand-name drugs were due to existing drug price inflation."

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight. Lawmakers have either been unable or unwilling to stand up to pharmaceutical companies past a Congressional hearing. According to NBC News, in February 2019, "top executives from seven major pharmaceutical companies told a Senate committee that they could not commit to lowering the prices of commonly used prescription drugs even as they admitted that they control these prices. One executive even acknowledged that the high cost of medicine hits poorest patients the hardest."

In 2016, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch testified before Congress regarding the price hikes on the life-saving emergency allergy treatment EpiPen, which is most often used when an allergy (such as food or stinging insect) could send someone into anaphylactic shock. The price increases totaled about $500 — bringing the price of the drug up about 450% to a whopping $609 for a two-pack in a period of 9 years. (Mylan acquired the drug in 2007.)

This is particularly striking, as children with allergies that may require an EpiPen are typically not even allowed to attend daycare without providing an EpiPen. In one case, a daycare center refused to accept a generic version, which meant a 3-year-old could no longer attend. Adults may choose to risk exposure and skip the cost of the EpiPen and that in itself is troubling, but the thought of putting a child at risk — especially a young one who may grab food off another child's plate — is a lot to ask of a parent.

After the hearings, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million as a settlement to the Department of Justice, which alleged that Mylan incorrectly classified EpiPen as a generic drug to purposefully overcharge Medicaid (the social welfare program for the poorest Americans) by reducing the amount of rebate it would otherwise have to pay Medicaid.

But neither hearings before Congress nor massive settlement did anything to sway Mylan executives from celebrating their ginormous revenue. In 2017, it was reported that Mylan paid $98 million to chairman and former CEO Robert Coury for his work in 2016, even though their stock price was slumping and their company had become “the face of corporate greed” during that calendar year.

Not only do pharmaceutical executives know that their prices are exorbitant, they know it affects the poorest, most vulnerable patients the most — and some argue they don't care.

Tablets on money bills

How Americans Cope with High Drug Costs

The rising costs of healthcare are something everyone has to deal with. For Americans, that generally means one of two strategies to save on prescription drug costs:

  1. Finding cheaper medication through international pharmacies
  2. Reducing doses or skipping their medication altogether

If this sounds at all familiar to you, you're not alone. Multiple studies have been conducted over the past decade that highlight just how dire the prescription drug situation is for Americans.

The 2011 National Center for Health Statistics report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that in 2009, 25 million Americans chose to forego taking a prescribed medication due to cost. In many cases, this means seeing the price at the pharmacy, and leaving without the medication.

This figure nearly doubled in 2010, when The Biennial Health Insurance Survey conducted by The Commonwealth Fund found that a staggering 48 million Americans were unable to fill their prescriptions due to the high cost.

Those who are enrolled in Medicare are just as vulnerable to exorbitant drug costs. A study published in the Public Library of Science (PLS) in 2011 revealed that 3.4 million Medicare enrollees stop filling their prescriptions in the coverage gap, or "donut hole," as it's sometimes called. This description is named for the period of time between reaching your deductible and your out-of-pocket maximum.

Essentially, your prescriptions are covered at your copayment amount, but then you enter a period of time where you're likely to pay a higher percentage for your medication. This continues until you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, at which point your prescription costs should decrease again.

While federal legislation is working to close the donut hole (2019 for brand name drugs and 2020 for generic), the legislation only helps to ease the transition in and out of the coverage gap. It's still possible enrollees will be expected to pay more during this gap, though probably a smaller percentage.

The same PLS study reports that beneficiaries reach the coverage gap an average of seven months after being enrolled in Medicare. If you were to reach that gap in July, you'd still have the remaining five months of the year until your coverage resets, or until you reach your out-of-pocket maximum.

As if this weren't frustrating enough, one must also consider that with aging comes a higher likelihood of chronic conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 86% of those ages 65 years and older had at least one chronic condition (specifically, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cancer, or arthritis). The same data showed that 56% of respondents had two chronic conditions, and 23% had three or more.

For retired senior citizens living on a fixed income, having access to their medications at more affordable prices — like those provided by Canadian online pharmacies and international online pharmacies — isn't just helpful. It's imperative.

Capsules and tablets

The Dangers of Not Adhering to Medication Regimens

Reducing or skipping medication is not only detrimental to an individual's health, but is also costing America's health care system billions of dollars. The CDC estimates that "direct health care costs associated with [medication] nonadherence have grown to approximately $100–$300 billion of U.S. health care dollars spent annually."

Specifically, these direct health care costs refer to events like hospital stays, emergency room visits, additional inpatient and outpatient medical care, and even death. The CDC says that in addition to increased health care costs, "nonadherence is associated with higher rates of hospital admissions, suboptimal health outcomes, increased morbidity and mortality."

For example, if you're diabetic and depend on insulin to survive, but cannot afford to buy it, you may end up in a diabetic coma in the hospital. If you're fortunate enough to recover, you'll be left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills — and those bills will definitely be higher than the cost of taking insulin in the first place. Chances are, you won't be able to pay back the medical debt, and you still won't be able to afford your insulin.

The same would be true for asthmatics who depend on inhaled corticosteroids, such as Advair, Symbicort, or Dulera. Some of these medications are finally available in generic form (which dramatically decreases their price), but not every medication works for every person. If your medication costs $350 per month, so you take it only once per day instead of twice, or you simply can't afford to buy it at all, you'll likely develop medical complications because of it.

It seems unlikely for someone to die of an asthma attack in the 21st century, but it absolutely happens (especially during ragweed season). According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), an average of 10 people die each day from asthma — 3,564 people in 2017. In many cases, these deaths are avoidable when people have access to necessary medication and treat their asthma properly.

While medication nonadherence isn't always a matter of cost (other reasons include forgetting to take medication and not taking it exactly as prescribed, such as not taking it at the same time of day), it oftentimes is. This typically manifests in people taking fewer doses than prescribed (like once per day instead of twice), or taking a smaller dose by cutting pills in half, or only taking one pill in the morning, when they were actually prescribed two.

Regardless of the reason for nonadherence, organizations like the CDC are doing what they can to promote medication adherence in hopes of improving outcomes and decreasing costs. However, if you can't afford your medication, adherence is simply not possible.

How We Can Help

All of this information proves how truly critical the need for affordable drugs is for the tens of millions of Americans who cannot afford to take their medications as prescribed. It's not difficult to imagine why so many people are looking to buy from international or Canadian pharmacies.

Corporate special interest groups, like the NABP and its pharmacy members, may discourage Americans from taking advantage of the lower prices that websites like NorthWestPharmacy.com can offer by promoting misinformation and dubious statistics about counterfeit drug sales. But legitimate online Canadian pharmacies and international drugstores certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (such as NorthWestPharmacy.com) provide authentic, high quality medications for a fraction of the price charged in the U.S.A. The manufactured safety concerns of Big Pharma and chain-drugstore supported groups like NABP are actually a smokescreen designed to protect the higher drug prices they continue to charge.

NorthWestPharmacy.com provides savings of up to 90% on prescription drugs. In addition to the guaranteed lowest prices, the quality and safety of your medication is a top priority. Access to a CIPA certified Canadian online pharmacy or international drugstore is vital for the millions of Americans who cannot afford the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs in the United States.

If you or someone you know cannot afford their medication locally, we may be able to help. If you would like to learn more about how we continue to help people, please check out our customer reviews page, where you'll find over 400,000 reviews and a 4.7/5 overall satisfaction rating.

If you're not sure how to get started, check out our How to Order or Frequently Asked Questions pages, which should answer most of your questions. Please don't hesitate to call us on our toll-free phone number if you have any questions at all, or needs assistance in completing your order. We're here to help you get the medication you need at affordable prices, safely and with exceptional service.

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