Best Prices in Both Countries Now Listed at PharmacyChecker.com Along With Pharmacy Ratings
WHITE PLAINS, NY — July 23, 2003 —New research by PharmacyChecker.com, which evaluates U.S. and Canadian pharmacies and compares their prices, shows that Americans save the most money when they purchase brand-name medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies but buy generic drugs from licensed U.S. wholesale pharmacies. "A consumer can easily cut their costs in half by buying brand-name drugs from Canada and generic drugs from U.S. wholesale pharmacies." said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of PharmacyChecker.com. "If price shopping is encouraged in the coming Medicare pharmacy benefit, the government could save billions of dollars from the cost of the program." The Congressional Budget Office recently calculated the program cost to exceed President Bush's limit of $400 billion over the first 10 years.
The price savings, PharmacyChecker.com found, result from a combination of government policies and market competition. Brand-name drug prices are lower in Canada because its provincial governments exert strict price controls, while the U.S. government does not. Generic prices, however, are often lower in the U.S. because of fierce generic competition: a dozen manufacturers might compete on a product in the U.S. while only two typically compete in Canada. Additionally, Canadian provincial governments generally do not negotiate prices for generics but base their prices on a percentage of branded drug prices, typically ranging from 60-75%.
American consumers can find additional savings on generic drugs from wholesale pharmacies that only charge a mark-up over their acquisition cost. In contrast, U.S. retail pharmacies typically charge a mark-up over the listed Average Wholesale Price (AWP) — an inflated figure self-reported by manufacturers and frequently higher than the cost paid by pharmacies. Generic drugs now account for nearly half of medications sold in the U.S. — a figure that is expected to grow as patents expire on more branded products.
PharmacyChecker gave the following drug price examples collected from its website. The lowest price found for each drug is shown in bold:
|Drug (strength, quantity, indication)||U.S. RetailPharmacy||U.S. Wholesale Pharmacy||Canadian Pharmacies — (Lowest Price)|
|Acyclovir Tablets (400mg, 100 pills, herpes) — generic version of Zovirax||$63.59||$21.42||147.73|
|Albuterol Inhaler (90 mcg, 1 inhaler, asthma) — generic version of Ventolin||19.89||8.19||9.12|
|Fluoxetine (20 mg, 100 pills, anti-depressant) — generic version of Prozac||$119.99||14.69||88.98|
|Omeprazole (20 mg, 30 pills, anti-reflux) — generic version of Prilosec||114.99||87.37||$54.95(for branded version — generic not available in Canada)|
|Lipitor (20 mg, 100 pills, cholesterol-lowering)||$307.99 (90 pills)||$301.47||$159.33|
|Celebrex (100 mg, 100 pills, arthritis)||$175.30||$156.87||$59.82|
|Nexium (40mg, 28 pills, anti-reflux)||$138.99||$115.47||$56.59|
|Source: PharmacyChecker.com online database on July 22, 2003. Licensed pharmacies only. Prices do not include shipping fees.|
As shown above, an example of a generic drug that is much cheaper in the U.S. than Canada is the herpes drug Acyclovir (brand name Zovirax), where consumers pay almost 600% more in Canada. Branded drugs, however, are, on average, half the price in Canada than in the U.S. In rare instances, the branded version of a drug in Canada will cost even less than the generic in the United States. Such is the case with Prilosec (20 mg-30 pills), which can be found for as little as $54.95 at an online Canadian pharmacy, while its generic counterpart can cost as much as $114.99 at a traditional U.S. pharmacy.
PharmacyChecker.com's Dr. Cooperman notes, "It pays to shop around for the best prices from pharmacies in both countries. Thanks to the Internet, this can now be done in just seconds from a home computer." Consumers can use PharmacyChecker.com to quickly find the best prices from U.S., Canadian, and Mexican online pharmacies on nearly every prescription medication. An independent rating and profile of each pharmacy is also provided. A subscription to PharmacyChecker.com is $10 for 30 days or $24 for an entire year.
To maximize savings, PharmacyChecker also advises consumers to:
- Shop at websites that require an original prescription — to avoid prescribing fees;
- Order 90-day supplies rather than 30-day supplies to take advantage of slightly lower per-pill costs and less frequent shipping charges; and
- Purchase multiple medications on each order to further reduce shipping charges.
PharmacyChecker.com is privately held and based in White Plains, New York. It has no ownership in or from companies that sell or distribute pharmacy products. Individual subscriptions to PharmacyChecker.com are available online. A PriceTracker service is also available to help businesses track changes in online drug prices. For PriceTracker or group subscriptions, contact Gabriel Levitt, Director of Research at firstname.lastname@example.org.