White Plains, New York – May 24, 2022 – For its May 2022 drug price report, PharmacyChecker analyzed the top 20 drugs often found on specialty tiers in Medicare drug plan formularies, ranked by 2017 gross Part D spending, finding that 14 out of the 20 drugs (70%) are manufactured abroad. Patients in the United States living with debilitating conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis C, and cancer, face annual drug costs reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Thirteen of the medications are available via international mail order for an average of 74.84% less than the U.S. retail pharmacy price.
“Following our report called Not Made in the USA, we are determined to continue showing the public just how many expensive drugs are imported by drug companies from countries where the prices for those drugs are often 75% lower,” stated Gabriel Levitt, president of PharmacyChecker. “It’s time for Medicare to negotiate prices on drugs and allow for safe, commercial importation by licensed U.S. pharmacies so that Americans can have the same prices as they do in other high-income countries. In the meantime, the only outlet for many is personal drug importation.”
Patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis can find Tecfidera, a drug used to prevent relapses, for 96.64% cheaper when imported internationally. At U.S. pharmacies, imatinib, used to treat leukemia, is an average of $302.75 for one pill. Accredited international mail order pharmacies sell the same for $1.76 per tablet. Both drugs are manufactured outside the United States, in Switzerland and India respectively.
The average price of Harvoni, a brand name drug used to treat hepatitis C, is $45,171.50 at U.S. pharmacies for 28 tablets. PharmacyChecker data shows that Harvoni sold in U.S. pharmacies is produced in Canada, where it is sold online for $23,243.99 – 49% less than in the U.S. The generic drug is 50% less than the brand price in the U.S. With a GoodRx U.S. coupon, a U.S. patient must pay around $9,300 out-of-pocket. For those that compare drug prices on PharmacyChecker.com, that price drops to $374.95 if ordered from an Indian pharmacy that is accredited by PharmacyChecker.
International online pharmacies are inspected and monitored through the high standards of the PharmacyChecker Verification Program, which was established in 2003 to provide online consumers with the safety and savings information necessary to make informed decisions regarding their prescription drug therapy finances. Led by Jeffrey Poirier, RPh, a licensed pharmacist in New Hampshire, the PharmacyChecker Verification Program has a robust set of audits with which participating pharmacies must continue to demonstrate compliance in order to stay in the program. Pharmacies accredited through PharmacyChecker Verification Program are located in Canada, Australia, India, Mauritius, New Zealand, Turkey, the UK, and the United States. Patients can view a list of currently accredited pharmacies on PharmacyChecker.com.
“Medicare, which is supposed to be a reliable healthcare system to protect our elderly, in actuality, straps them with astronomically expensive drug therapies – as if a cancer diagnosis isn’t devastating enough,” said Lucia Mueller, vice president of operations and communications at PharmacyChecker.com. “Reform of Medicare Part D is a public health imperative.”
Many drugs found on specialty tiers are subjected to REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies), for which the FDA has designated additional ‘Elements to Assure Safe Use’ (ETASU) requirements related to dispensing. In accordance with PharmacyChecker Verification Program policies, the new report details specialty drugs unavailable for international mail order due to patient safety concerns surrounding REMS-designated and refrigerated products. At this time, none of the current PharmacyChecker-accredited pharmacies are eligible to ship refrigerated products due to its strict policy of ensuring international shipments of refrigerated products not be exposed to temperatures below 2 degrees or above 8 degrees Celsius.
Spending on drugs on specialty tiers in Medicare Part D increased from $3.4 billion in 2007 to $37.1 billion in 2017, with the annual growth rate climbing to an average of 29.7 percent starting in 2012. PharmacyChecker frequently analyzes international drug price comparisons and, more recently, the manufacturing origin of prescription drugs sold in the United States.
PharmacyChecker, based in the United States, is the only independent company that verifies the credentials of international mail order pharmacies, publishing a list of accredited online pharmacies and comparisons of their drug prices. For more information, visit www.pharmacychecker.com.
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