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CanadaPharmacy — Possibly Our Key to Reducing Prescription Costs

While shelving, I ran across Health Care on Less Than You Think by Fred Brock, the same guy who does “Live Well” and “Retire” on less than you think. I’m probably going to do a review, but am still in the process of reading. One idea, however, deserves a post in itself.

The trouble with antidepressant medications, you see, is that they’re chronic…you really have to keep taking them as long as you need them, which may be for years. And doctors don’t like to switch you from something that works to something generic that might not work (and some people question generic antidepressants).

pharmacymikelicht.jpgSo that’s a recurring expense in our budget. We got a card from YourRx.com (totally random, but it works for now) that lowered our costs by about $20/prescription/month, which was a good start.

Brock suggested looking into Canadian pharmacies, specifically CanadaPharmacy.com, to really cut prescription costs. I wouldn’t normally go with an internet pharmacy, but this one is legitimate (the book and other sources recommend them).

You have to actually mail them the prescription, apparently they have a doctor look it over and write you a Canadian one. Shipments come in 90 day supplies.

Anyway, with their prices we’d basically be getting 3 months for the price of two for the same brand that is so much more expensive here. But when you take out the YourRx.com card, we’d actually be getting 3 months for the cost of 1 1/2 or so. Which is an even better deal, though 3 for 2 is our real savings.

In health insurance news, Micah was approved while my doctor has to fill out paperwork. But, we’re using a HSA which means we have to pay prescriptions out of pocket until we reach the deductible. However, Micah’s got a prescription card now from Care First which may get him more off than the YourRx.com card did. In that case, we’ll have to run the numbers again. We’re going to talk to the pharmacy before the next refill comes due.

As has been noted below, the legal issues surrounding Canadian pharmacies are…hairy. It’s hard to sort through things, but from what I’ve been able to tell, the FDA is not currently planning to track down customers. Brock also admits this is a complicated area. On the other hand, you have states which actually tell their citizens that they may be able to get much better pharmaceutical deals through Canadian pharmacies online and actually give out info on which pharmacies have been vetted and how to find a good one….

scary photo by Mike Licht of NotionsCapital.com


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Health Insurance, Doctors Visits, and Prescription Medicine | How to Save Money
April 13, 2009 at 7:01 am

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sjean February 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Are you certain it is technically legal to get drugs from overseas?

I know people do it, and I don’t believe the FDA has been cracking down on this. But I have heard it is illegal, and I have also heard of cases where package are held up at customs.

I didn’t do any searching about recent laws, this is just based on what I think I have heard in the past. Worth checking into, or if you know it is legal, worth noting in this post.

Aryn February 29, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Once your get your insurance approved, see if your insurer offers a mail-order pharmacy in the US. Mine does and we can get the same deal – three months for the price of two – without paying for international shipping.

mrsmicah February 29, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Good question, SJean. They’re not allowed to ship narcotics and certain drugs. But according to the book Canada Pharmacy ships some things from inside the US, thus getting around the border issue.

Not all states have gone this far, but the State of Nevada actually has a whole page set up to help its citizens find and evaluate Canadian online pharmacies.

As I understand it, the laws on this are complicated but the drugs we’re looking for are FDA approved brand name ones, which gets around the laws regarding non-FDA approved, Canadian-only generics and the like. 90-days is also key, they can’t ship more.

mrsmicah February 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Aryn, good idea. Now that we’ve got the card (which arrived as I was writing this post, lol) there are other options available. It’d be nice if they did that too.

Minimum Wage February 29, 2008 at 5:18 pm

I’d love to see a poor American get prosecuted for “illegally” buying prescription drugs from a Canadian pharmacy.

shawna February 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I got stoked when I saw this, but one of my prescriptions isn’t available there. Drats.

Christine February 29, 2008 at 7:02 pm

@Sjean, Canada isn’t overseas! It’s just a different country. Check your map 😉

@Mrs. M — good move, I think. Hooray for single-payer systems… they make everything cheap. Or free. In the past month or so I’ve had an ECG, an x-ray, and two blood tests, and next week I’m having an ultrasound — all for $0. (Yes, I am the picture of health, it is clear).

I find it interesting that some places try to actively discourage Americans from crossing the border to get their meds. The biggest bogey is “Canadian drugs aren’t FDA approved! They’re not safe!” Well, duh they’re not FDA approved; the FDA is an American institution. But Canadian drugs are approved by our equivalent to the FDA (and in fact, are often made in the same factories as the american ones).

I don’t know that it’s relevant to your situation, but I found some interesting reading about the Cdn healthcare system in general a while ago. It is interesting. See here:

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mythbusting-canadian-health-care-part-i
http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mythbusting-canadian-healthcare-part-ii-debunking-free-marketeers

Small Cents March 1, 2008 at 6:37 am

Yet another example of why healthcare needs to be a top issue for the next president, whomever he or she may be. And why my French husband is so reluctant to leave our system here, and to be honest, so am I!

Funny about Money March 1, 2008 at 9:57 am

@ Minimum Wage

A year or two ago, the feds actually did arrest an elderly woman for the desperate crime of bringing a bottle of prescription medication, purchased with her doctor’s prescription at a pharmacy in Mexico, across the border. Pharma’s lobbyists do NOT want you to be able to buy your meds at anything even vaguely resembling a reasonable price.

And as to whether Canadian drugs are safe: anyone who’s been watching the news lately knows U.S. drugs, with their fine Chinese-made ingredients, are no more safe than anything you buy across the border.

As long as corporate interests making obscene profits from our medical care keep their death-grip on our elected representatives, we will never again see a medical system that works.

Katja April 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I don’t know what antidepressant you’re on, but if things get really horrible financially, you could try St. John’s Wort. It’s an herb that works similarly to an SSRA, so you don’t need a prescription for it.

I know switching can be complicated and possibly dangerous, so I wouldn’t suggest it unless you had to, but it’s good to know there is an affordable alternative that you can just walk into a drugstore and pick up if you need to. It’s much better than not being able to afford your meds and then not having anything at all.

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