(BPT) - Prescription drug prices are skyrocketing. For anyone who needs regular prescriptions to manage serious chronic health conditions, the soaring cost of their medications creates a real burden. Studies show that one in four adults skip medications primarily due to cost, which leads to bigger problems both for their health outcomes and for increasing medical costs as they suffer complications due to missed medications. But a new survey shows that a growing number of Americans are finding a workable solution: importing prescription medications from Canada.
In the survey, conducted by the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI), over 93% of the respondents cited the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. as the primary reason they ordered prescriptions from licensed online Canadian pharmacies.
How much are they saving?
According to the survey, Americans ordering their prescription drugs from certified online Canadian pharmacies are saving an average of $228 per month — or $2,736 per year. Here's the breakdown of savings per month:
For that last group, the average monthly savings was $755 each month, up from $648 in 2019.
Recent price comparisons show that online Canadian pharmacies consistently offer Americans savings of 50-90% on brand-name prescription medications compared to leading U.S. pharmacies as well as GoodRx and Amazon Pharmacy.
The real impact
The effect of these savings is not just about the cost. Craig Barnes of Oregon has been ordering prescription drugs from Canada for about two years. “I have a heart condition that requires medication to regulate my heart rate," said Barnes. The U.S. list price of 60 tabs (a 30-day supply) is approximately $500.00. On GoodRx, the price is a bit lower — about $460.00. Even with his insurance, his out-of-pocket monthly cost in the U.S. would be about $236.00. Buying from an online Canadian pharmacy, Barnes saves $2,328 a year, getting the medication he needs for only $42.00 per month.
"If I had to buy the medication in the U.S., I would have to stop treatment or split doses,” said Barnes. And for most people managing a health condition like Barnes, that can result in a much poorer health outcome, leading to complications that could even be life-threatening.
In the CPPI survey, 62% of the Americans who import their prescriptions said they were referred by a trusted medical professional, friend or family member, and 80% of the survey respondents knew how to identify “rogue” pharmacies and felt savvy about their ability to find a trustworthy online pharmacy. The upshot? A whopping 99% of those who currently import their prescriptions from Canada would recommend doing so to family and friends.
It's definitely a continuing trend — last year saw an increase from 8.1% to 13.3% of Americans who reported ordering prescription drugs from online Canadian pharmacies for the first time. Eighty-seven percent said they had been ordering from online Canadian pharmacies for a year or longer. Until prescription medications become more affordable in the U.S., it's a trend that is likely to continue to grow.
How to find a safe pharmacy online
The pandemic has underscored the importance of everyone having access to safe, reliable and affordable medications. For those with multiple underlying conditions, this is even more crucial now.
The Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI) recommends searching for licensed Canadian pharmacies on certified websites. CPPI is a national nonprofit patient advocacy organization that fights for Americans' access to safe, affordable prescription medications from Canada for personal use. On their website, PersonalImportation.org, you can find advice and tips, plus a link to the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) website, CIPA.com, for a list of licensed pharmacies.
"All Americans deserve access to affordable prescription medications. The savings that American patients report finding from online Canadian pharmacies is significant and available to Americans right now," says Jack Pfeiffer, executive director of the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation. "There is even a bill in Congress, the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, which could make these savings even easier for Americans to come by.”