Author Topic: Getting prescription drugs from overseas to avoid ridiculously-priced US version  (Read 3267 times)

babysnowbyrd

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One of my biggest challenges to my personal fitness is asthma. I consider it pretty mild, but that's really because I hardly do anything that will set it off, especially cardio exercise. I'm recently employed (less than 1 yr) at my job, but having gone years without affordable medicine, I'm used to having ONE rescue inhaler at a time that I strive not to use except in emergencies. I've had daily-use drugs too, but they're most effective when they're used consistently overtime. I'm not able to bring myself to do that though, so I "save" them by only using them during times when I struggle a little more than usual during daily activities (like during allergy season or during a long inversion).

I have decent medical benefits now, but the medicine is still expensive. It's a whole big convoluted thing but basically, because of changed patent laws in the US, what used to be cheap medicine is now ridiculously expensive with no generic options available. I have "hair on fire" debt, so I'm really adverse to forking out my share of the cost of the prescription. However, I would like to get out more, be more active, and not feel like I'm walking on eggshells in regards to setting off an asthma attack. I feel stuck between a severe reluctance to fork out money every month for the maintenance-type, daily-use drugs that will make the most difference and a desire not to be controlled by asthma.

So far, the money is winning.

However, I've heard that because patent laws are different outside of the US, that the same medications that are expensive here are quite affordable in other countries. Like I could pay full-price in France and get a 5-month supply for what I would pay for one month here. I've heard it's legal as long as you have a legitimate prescription, which I do.

Does anyone know if there's a legal way to buy prescriptions from another country? And what reputable companies you can buy from?

ShortInSeattle

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My understanding is that it is illegal (and quite dangerous) to purchase controlled substances over the internet. I've heard of elderly people making physical trips to Canada or Mexico to buy medicines (where they are cheaper) and bring them home, but I am not sure on the legality of that. Also, travel would be an expense.

Any reputable pharmacy won't break US law by mailing you a prescription. Any less than reputable one will send you pills, but they could be rat poison or God knows what.

Honestly though, I think you should get your maintenance medication, even if it will slow down your debt payback. Your daily health and happiness isn't worth scrimping on.

I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful!


Scnrn

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Try looking on this site. It is a legit integrative medicine practice in Chicago and he makes a recommendation for a Canadian site .He explains why he does it.

http://wholehealthchicago.com/about-whc/

Not sure if the Canadian site will have it any cheaper.
Did you call around to every possible pharmacy. It is super quick to do because they just look it up on their computer. Costco and Walmart are usually pretty competitive.You apparently don't have to belong to Costco.
Please,please take your medicine. Asthma is not something to mess with. I know young people who have died from it.

geekette

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My DH has asthma, and yeah, the rescue inhalers went from cheap to expensive due to going cfc free and thus back under patent.  Whee.

Check with your doctor for samples and the manufacturer for discount "clubs".  Also check with goodrx.com to see what their estimated prices are (sometimes they're worth the trouble of asking the pharmacist to price it that way).  My current pharmacist is surprisingly good at finding discounts (she has a drawer full of offers, she says).  Some insurance companies have one brand that's "preferred" and therefore cheaper. 

Also, my SIL, a nurse practitioner, says the expiration dates are extremely conservative, and meds are fine for a year post expiration.  My DH will ditch a rescue inhaler 3 months or so post expiration date.

Definitely not something you want to be without when you need it.

NumberJohnny5

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I'm not sure it's illegal per se. What I do know, is it can often be confiscated due to intellectual property mumbo-jumbo. Which I guess is still a legal issue, but the illegal act would be more on the seller's side, not yours. I'm not a lawyer, so ask your local neighborhood lawyer what he/she thinks.

My mom has asthma and takes Advair. I'd have to ask her how much it cost, but I think it cost over $100 for a 30 day supply (a quick google of prices shows $270 as the lowest price for 60 doses, at two doses a day that'd last 30 days). She was trying to stretch out her medication and was only taking one dose a day, then one dose every so often. Not that good for her.

She can buy some from an overseas pharmacy and pay $75 for 60 doses of the the exact same medication (fluticasone propionate 250 mcg and salmeterol 50 mcg). That went so well she made another order of a generic version. This one has half the salmeterol (fluticasone propionate 250 mcg and salmeterol 25 mcg), a total of 240 doses cost about $75.

Ordering overseas is so much cheaper, she could get an entire year's supply for less than a 30 day supply would cost. She's still stretching the doses out (one dose a day instead of two), but she doesn't have to anymore.

I've imported quite a bit of medicine, though a lot is coming FROM the US (currently in Australia). Things like tylenol, ibuprofen, and melatonin (melatonin, the real stuff, is crazy expensive here vs dirt cheap in the US). I've also ordered things like propranolol (blood pressure) and glyburide. Funny story, if you have gestational diabetes (as my wife did), the first medication doctors prescribe in the US is glyburide; the mere idea of that freaks out Australian doctors. Hence us ordering it from overseas.

Now, I'm not recommending anyone order from an online pharmacy, just in case it's illegal/dangerous/whatever. In fact, I'll say DON'T DO IT! Cause it might be illegal and dangerous. Even though all the reports of counterfeit medicine I've read were issues with the whole supply (and not for specific pharmacies), and the fact that counterfeit medicine included things such as "right active ingredient, but passed off as name-brand" (like labeling Equate ibuprofen as Motrin; same active ingredient, but not name-brand). So for legal purposes I'm saying "Don't buy cheap medicine from overseas countries! Do as I say, not as I do!"

NumberJohnny5

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This issue has nothing to do with intellectual property. It has to do with US border control. Some introductory information: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/320/kw/importing%20prescription%20drugs/session/L3RpbWUvMTQxODk0MTYwMy9zaWQveHZSRmxlYW0%3D/suggested/1

That doesn't say it's NOT because of IP laws. In fact, I'd argue that this section supports my argument:

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Moreover, in those instances where a U.S. manufacturer makes an FDA-approved prescription drug and sends it abroad, the Act also prohibits any person other than the original manufacturer from importing the drug back into the U.S.

So, the drug obviously has FDA approval. What reason could there be to deny it's re-importation?

Here's more info straight from the horse's mouth: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194904.htm

In particular:

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FDA, however, has a policy explaining that it typically does not object to personal imports of drugs that FDA has not approved under certain circumstances, including the following situation:

With one of the situations being:

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There is no commercialization or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents

Why would the FDA care about that? It's all about the money.

babysnowbyrd

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I got it guys!  Looks like I can do it legally if I just move to Maine:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/7/is-canada-the-answertohighpriceofmedsinus.html

The_path_less_taken

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I really like Maine...can't imagine why I never lived there because it's beautiful and has amazing wildlife (and of course, blueberries).

I used to get a prescription from Canada, but thought it was illegal now. (quit taking it as DGL worked better than the proton pump inhibitor I used to use for GERD)