White Plains, NY – October 8th, 2015 – New data from PharmacyChecker.com, an online pharmacy verification and drug price comparison company, shows that popular, branded maintenance medications can be purchased at an 84% average savings over U.S. prices if ordered online from licensed pharmacies in other countries. The greatest savings is 94% for the acid-blocking drug Nexium ($946.50 in the U.S. vs. $53.09 online for a three month supply of 40 mg pills) and the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor ($803.89 vs. $51.40 – 20 mg pills). The greatest dollar savings is for the antipsychotic drug Abilify ($3,178.99 vs. $237.05 – 10 mg pills). The average annual savings per drug is $3,479. Despite this, last month, the U.S. FDA announced a "new rule" regarding its expanded authority to destroy personally imported medicine under Section 708 of the Food and Drug Administration Safety Act of 2012. Several members of congress have raised concern that FDA's rules may impede access to affordable medication .
|Prices for a 3-month supply of top-selling brand name medications|
|Drug||Local U.S. Pharmacy Price||International Online Pharmacy Price*||International Online Savings||Annual Savings|
|Advair Diskus 250/50mcg (180 doses)||$1,203.00||$99.99||92%||$4,412.04|
|Spiriva Handihaler 18mcg||$1,221.00||$113.99||91%||$4,428.04|
|Ventolin HFA 100mcg||$192.00||$68.82||64%||$492.72|
|Lantus Solostar 15ml||$397.89||$148.94||63%||$995.80|
|Sources: Local pharmacy prices based on prices at chain drugstores in New York City; International online pharmacy prices based on lowest prices listed on PharmacyChecker.com. All prices obtained on September 30, 2015. *Medications dispensed by licensed pharmacies, verified by PharmacyChecker, in one of the following countries Australia, Barbados, Canada, India, Mauritius, New Zealand, Turkey, Singapore, or United Kingdom.|
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about five million Americans import medication each year due to the high cost of prescription medication . An even larger number -- 35 million -- did not fill a prescription last year due to cost, as estimated by the Commonwealth Fund . Although there are federal restrictions against personal drug importation, individuals are not prosecuted for importing small quantities of medication for personal use, according to the FDA and senior analysts from the Government Accountability Office .
"Licensed pharmacies in many other countries sell medications which are equally safe and effective as those in the U.S. but at much lower prices," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., chief executive officer of PharmacyChecker.com. "In light of dramatically rising drug prices, now is the time for our government officials to do everything they can to help, rather than hinder, Americans' access to affordable medication."
The FDA positions its expanded authority to destroy personally imported medication as one to "protect patients." Dr. Cooperman believes that FDA's rule ignores the social cost of people not receiving medication. In public comments to the FDA's proposal, Gabriel Levitt, president of PharmacyChecker.com, wrote: "Americans who may have to forgo medication that is detained, refused or destroyed can become sick, not get better, and even die." In a letter to the FDA, Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-NV), Angus King (I-ME), David Vitter (R-LA) stated: "This proposed regulation constitutes a potential health threat to hundreds of thousands of Americans who receive their affordable drugs from safe, licensed and legal pharmacies in Canada." Peer-reviewed, empirical studies, demonstrate the safety of ordering prescription medication from other countries from an online pharmacy that is properly credentialed, including ones credentialed by PharmacyChecker.com .
Some presidential candidates, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Governor Mike Huckabee propose policies to facilitate safe personal drug importation. Legislation by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) seeks to suspend Section 708 .
PharmacyChecker.com was founded by Tod Cooperman, M.D. in 2002 to help consumers safely save money on medication by identifying the lowest drug prices from verified online pharmacies. PharmacyChecker.com independently checks the credentials of online pharmacies and provides free comparisons of online and local U.S. pharmacy drug prices. It has no ownership in or from pharmacies or drug companies.
 U.S. Senator David Vitter, "Vitter Fights to Keep Prescription Drug Prices Affordable Through Reimportation," July 9, 2014 [press release], see [www] vitter.senate.gov/newsroom/press/vitter-fights-to-keep-prescription-drug-prices-affordablethrough-reimportation [Last accessed 9/20/14]. 38 Representative JoAnn Emerson (MO), "Food and Drug Administration Reform Act." May 30th 2012. See [www] votesmart.org/public-statement/702416/food-and-drug-administration-reform-act-of-2012#.UxVJN-co4s9 [Last accessed 9/22/14]. Letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Congressman Keith Ellison dated July 1st, 2014. See See [www] regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2014-N-0504-0022.
 The Common Wealth Fund Issue Brief, "The Rise in Health Care Coverage and Affordability Since Health Reform Took Effect: Findings from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2014," January 2015
 Cohen RA, Kirzinger WK, Gindi RM, "Strategies used by adults to reduce their prescription drug costs," National Center for Health Statistics data brief, no 119, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 2013, Hyattsville, MD.
 Marcia Crosse, PhD, director for the Health Care Team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) explain FDA's personal drug importation policies. "Should You Use an Overseas Pharmacy," MoneyTalksNews.com, 2/1/2013. An email written by Christopher Kelly, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA, states: "FDA is not aware of any actions taken against an individual resulting from their purchase of small quantities of unapproved drugs for personal use." See [www] moneytalksnews.com/2013/02/01/is-it-safeto-use-an-overseas-pharmacy/.
 Bate, Roger, Ginger Zhe Jin, and Aparna Mather, "In Whom We Trust: The Role of Certification Agencies in Online Drug Markets," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. December 2013, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 111–150, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, ISSN (Print) 2194-6108, DOI. See 10.1515/bejeap-2013-0085.
 S. 2023, Section 201c, Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015.