Photo Credit: by Marvin Raußen, from flickr.com
You may have seen the recent headlines: Americans continue to have to cross the border north to Canada in order to secure drugs they need at a price they can afford, including insulin and diabetes drugs.
What’s with this ongoing, growing trend? Why do Americans need to travel to Canada in order to get the life-saving drugs they need to stay alive and healthy? In some cases, this is a patient’s last resort, the only option left. No one prefers to have to visit another country to get the drugs they need to stay alive and well, especially those who are ill.
In this article, we’ll look at the current state of the American drug market and explain why it’s necessary for some Americans to travel to Canadian pharmacies for the prescriptions they need.
Medical tourism: Americans head to Canada to buy insulin for diabetes
A group of American diabetics and advocates recently made headlines after they traveled together as a group to cross the border and purchase insulin in Canada, an action known as insulin tourism, where the same dose of drugs cost them a couple hundred rather than thousands of dollars.
Todayville reports, “The soaring cost of insulin in the United States prompted a group of American diabetics to head to Canada on Friday to buy the non-prescription drug at a fraction of the price. The group of about 25 left Minneapolis, Minnesota, for London, Ontario, where they also plan to hold a press conference to draw attention to the affordability plight.
“One of the organizers, Quinn Nystrom, who is making her second such expedition, said insulin prices south of the border have skyrocketed in two decades. ‘One in four Americans are rationing their insulin because they cannot afford it, so people are dying,’ Nystrom, 33, said in an interview as she prepared to leave. ‘It’s a tragedy.’”
The situation is grim for American patients who face the greed of big drug companies. Even in recent months, the mega search engine Google has put out an update that is already making it harder for Americans to locate the online Canadian pharmacies that can provide them affordable prescriptions. The struggle continues for patients who just want to locate the drugs they need without breaking the bank.
Though many do not realize it, crossing the border to Canada to purchase insulin is not something that will get you stopped at the border. This is because insulin is not a prescription in Canada. For many Americans, especially those who reside near the border, hopping over to Canada to get the drugs they need is a more affordable option.
Even Bernie Sanders joined a recent trip over the border to purchase insulin. He commented, “It is an embarrassment for those of us who are Americans … We love our Canadian neighbours and we thank them so much, but we shouldn’t have to come to Canada.”
Still, some are concerned that as more and more Americans realize they can get their prescriptions for a fraction of the price in Canada, there is a potential to cause disruption in the supply chain, or even encounter a shortage if Canada’s drug supply cannot support both its own citizens and those of another country. According to Todayville, “Four states including Florida have passed legislation allowing for wholesale or individual imports of medications.”
It is certainly an issue that deserves to be examined, considered, and planned for so that all patients can access the prescriptions they need at a price they can afford.
Why do Americans travel to Canadian pharmacies?
Some wonder why it makes sense for Americans to travel to Canadian pharmacies to purchase the same drugs they can get at home. The reason is simple: even with the added costs of travel, the drugs are far more affordable in Canada than they are in the US, and they’re just as safe and viable.
Take the diabetes situation as just one example: the typical price of insulin in the United States is around ten times more than what it costs in Canada. A similar situation happens in China, but with cancer drugs instead of diabetes drugs.
But what makes drugs more affordable in Canada? Shouldn’t prescription drugs cost the same price anywhere they’re available? No. According to CTV News, “In Canada, drug prices are regulated by the federal Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, which has a mandate is to ensure the cost of medications is ‘not excessive.’”
Because drug companies in the US are subjected to no such regulation, the cost of drugs can soar sky-high for Americans while remaining affordable to our neighbors to the north.
As an example from the insulin tourism trip to Canada that recently made headlines: “Diabetic advocate Quinn Nystrom, who travelled with the caravan from Minnesota, paid US$243 for her drugs on Saturday in Ontario. The same supply would have cost her US$3,060 at home, she said.”
Another woman who was part of the caravan shared her heartbreaking story of loss: her 26-year-old son lost his drug insurance and had to begin to ration his insulin. He died as a result. At the time, she did not know it was legal for Americans to cross the border into Canada to purchase insulin.
How can you trust an online pharmacy?
One way to avoid having to take a trip to Canada is to order your prescriptions online. There are various online Canadian pharmacies that dispense legitimate drugs, such as the diabetes drug Januvia, to the patients who need them. However, some wonder how they can trust an online pharmacy, as there are many scams out there.
One of the easiest ways you can determine whether to trust an online pharmacy is to use a third party tool that you trust. One such tool is Pharmacy Checker, an online pharmacy verification search tool that exists to “protect public health and improve access to affordable medicine.”
According to a recent press release, “By typing in the web address of an online pharmacy in the search portal, a visitor of PharmacyChecker.com can now immediately tell if a pharmacy is accredited through the PharmacyChecker Verification Program. The tool is a critical alternative to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Dot Pharmacy (.Pharmacy) Program, which was funded by pharmaceutical companies and excludes safe international online pharmacies, including licensed Canadian pharmacies, that sell to Americans. …
“Pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and others funded the NABP’s application to the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to administer the registry .Pharmacy (dot pharmacy). The only online pharmacies eligible to have an NABP .Pharmacy registration and sell medicine in the U.S. are domestic pharmacies (such as Walgreens.pharmacy and CVS.pharmacy). According to investigative reporting by non-profit media outlet, Tarbell, the NABP and other groups funded by drug companies engage in public information campaigns scaring Americans against buying lower-cost medicine online from another country.”
PharmacyChecker sends an online pharmacy through a rigorous going-over to ensure it deserves to be accredited by them. To name a few, the online pharmacy must dispense only from licensed pharmacies, must require a valid prescription, cannot sell controlled or illegal prescription drugs to the US, sells proper quantities of medications, and makes licensed pharmacists available for consultation.
How to spot a trustworthy online Canadian pharmacy
It’s easy to spot a trustworthy online Canadian pharmacy: just make sure it is verified and accredited by PharmacyChecker. It should follow all the rules of compliance when it comes to proper dispensing, dosing, and selling of prescription drugs.
Ordering prescriptions online can be a cost-friendly way to secure the drugs you need at a price you can afford. As long as you do your research, don’t be afraid to order from an online Canadian pharmacy that checks all the right boxes when it comes to compliance, credibility, and trustworthiness.
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