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FDA warning public of risks of online pharmacies

Posted



The Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. consumers that the vast majority of Internet pharmacies are fraudulent and likely are selling counterfeit drugs that could harm them.

The agency on Friday launched a national campaign, called BeSafeRx, to alert the public to the danger, amid evidence that more people are shopping for their medicine online, looking for savings and convenience.

[pullquote]

Instead, they're likely to get fake drugs that are contaminated, are past their expiration date or contain no active ingredient, the wrong amount of active ingredient or even toxic substances such as arsenic and rat poison. They could sicken or kill people, cause them to develop a resistance to their real medicine, cause new side effects or trigger harmful interactions with other medications being taken.

"Our goal is to increase awareness," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press, "not to scare people away from online pharmacies. You can save anywhere up to 85% off of any prescription medication rates if you buy medicine on the internet from legitimate online pharmacies. Save a lot on your heart drugs the next time you fill your prescription.We want them to use appropriate pharmacies."

That means pharmacies that are located in the U.S., are licensed by the pharmacy board in the patient's state and have a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions. In addition, the pharmacy must require a valid doctor's prescription for the medicine. Online drugstores that claim none is needed, or that the site's doctor can write a prescription after the customer answers some questions, are breaking the law.

Research by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which represents the state pharmacy boards, found that of thousands of online pharmacies it reviewed, only about 3 percent follow state and federal laws. In fact, the group's website lists only a few dozen Internet pharmacies that it has verified are legitimate and following the rules.

Most consumers don't know that. An Internet survey, conducted by the FDA in May, questioned 6,090 adults. It found that nearly one in four Internet shoppers has bought prescription drugs online, and nearly three in 10 said they weren't confident they could do so safely.

The campaign comes after some high-profile cases of counterfeit drugs reaching American patients earlier this year.

In February and again in April, the FDA warned doctors and cancer clinics around the country that it had determined they had bought fake Avastin, a pricey injectable cancer medicine, from a "gray market" wholesaler. The fake Avastin vials originated in Asia or Eastern Europe and were transferred through a network of shady wholesalers before being sold to clinics by a wholesaler claiming to be in Montana.

In another case, the FDA issued a warning in May after learning consumers shopping on the Internet had bought fake versions of generic Adderall, a popular medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

No deaths or serious injuries have been linked to those fakes, but Hamburg notes that when drugs don't help patients get better, doctors usually blame the disease or assume a different medicine is needed. That means most fakes aren't detected.

So the FDA, which has put increasing focus on the counterfeiting problem, on Friday launched a website, www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx , that shows consumers how to determine if an online pharmacy is safe.

"Buying prescription medicine from a fake online pharmacy can be dangerous, or even deadly," the site warns.

It includes tips on how to spot illegal pharmacies, links to state databases of licensed pharmacies and explanations of all the dangers of rogue pharmacies. Besides likely getting fake drugs, that includes the risk that they will infect your computer with viruses, sell your personal and financial information to other rogue websites and Internet scammers, or charge you for products you never ordered or received.







CEO of PharmacyChecker On People's Pharmacy Radio Talking Safety and Savings on Narrow Therapeutic Index Drugs

Posted

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Feb 8, 2017 | Drug Prices, Drug Safety, Generic drugs, Narrow Therapeutic Index

Tod Cooperman, MD CEO of PharmacyChecker.com

Joe and Terry Graedon have been helping Americans make better health decisions for the last 40 years, including through their syndicated radio show on National Public Radio called The People's Pharmacy. As you can imagine, their listeners are interested in prescription drug safety and savings. Our CEO was on their show this past Saturday and I'd like to tell you about it, especially if you want to learn how to save money on brand name drugs.

The CEO of PharmacyChecker.com, Tod Cooperman, MD, is also the founder and president of ConsumerLab.com, the leading evaluator of health and wellness products. ConsuemrLab.com has worked with The People's Pharmacy in the past to test prescription medications. While I believe that generics sold in the U.S. are usually of the highest quality, equal to or better than generics in most other countries, ConsumerLab.com's findings show that some generic medications in the U.S. are not always equal to the brand. Due to his expertise is drug quality and his knowledge about drug prices, The People's Pharmacy brought Dr. Cooperman on to their show last week to talk about Narrow Therapeutic Index (NTI) drugs. Listen to the show! (See minutes 6:50-18:00).

For NTI medications, it's even more important that the active pharmaceutical ingredient is present in the exact amount required. When NTI medications have too much of the active pharmaceutical ingredient, it can be toxic; but those that have too little may not be adequately efficacious. Most NTI drugs are available in generic form, which usually means they are low cost, even without insurance, and usually lower-priced than in Canada and other countries, too! The opposite holds true for brands.

Some providers are deciding that it's important for their patients stick with the brand for NTI drugs for the reasons stated above. But the prices here are often too high. In the radio show, Dr. Cooperman recommends looking internationally for those who can't afford the brand locally. Americans can often find discounts averaging 80% internationally on Brand name NTI drugs. Last summer, when we read The Graedon's Guide to Saving Money on Medicines, we noticed the list of NTI drugs and wanted to compare drug prices domestically and internationally. Our research from Fall 2016 is below.

Narrow Therapeutic Index (NTI) Drugs: Brand Name Price Comparison (U.S., Canada, International*)

Per Pill Cost[i]

Potential Savings

Medication Name: Brand (Generic)

Strength

U.S[ii]

Canada[iii]

NZ/UK[iv]

Canada

Other Int'l

Overall

Tegretol (Carbamazepine)

200mg

$2.87

$0.77

$0.57

73%

80%

80%

Cleocin HCl (Clindamycin) [v]

300mg caps

$24.00

$3.38

NA

86%

NA

86%

Catapres (Clonidine HCl)

0.1mg

$3.34

$0.45

NA

86%

NA

86%

Sandimmune (Cyclosporine)

100mg /mL 50mL

$664.84

$327.98

NA

51%

NA

51%

Lanoxin (Digoxin)[vi]

0.125mg

$12.54

$0.75

NA

94%

NA

94%

Depakote (Divalproex)[vii]

250mg

$5.73

$0.90

NA

84%

NA

84%

Zarontin (Ethosuximide)

250mg

$4.51

$0.66

NA

85%

NA

85%

Synthroid (Levothyroxine)

100 mcg (0.1mg)

$1.87

$0.35

$0.63

81%

66%

81%

Dilantin (Phenytoin)

100mg

$1.45

$0.33

$0.48

77%

67%

77%

Depakene (Valproic acid)

250mg

$5.76

$0.93

NA

84%

NA

84%

Coumadin (Warfarin)

5mg

$3.69

$0.60

NA

84%

NA

84%

Average Savings

81%

[i] Based on three month supply of medication.

[ii] Walgreens, NYC, December 2016

[iii] Prices of international online pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com.

[iv] Prices of international online pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com.

[v] Marketed as Dalacin C in Canad

[vi] Marketed as Toloxin in Canada

[vii] Marketed as Epival in Canada

Tagged with: generic drugs, Narrow Therapeutic Index, The People's Pharmacy, Tod Cooperman

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Feb 1, 2017 | Advocacy, Patient Assistance Programs, pbm, Pharmaceutical Industry

Can Big Pharma Help Me Afford My Meds?

People who are not new to this blog know that we are often critical of the pharmaceutical industry because of their actions to stop Americans from buying lower cost medications from international online pharmacies. So, this may come as a surprise...

Today, we announced that we have added a new section on PharmacyChecker.com for consumers to search, find and apply to patient assistance programs, those sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. You can type in the name of your medication and review a very comprehensive collection of these programs, including low-cost, no-cost, and copay programs. The eligibility hurdles are often prohibitive: so please understand that for many programs, if you're currently earning above the median income in the U.S. it's likely that you are too rich. (more...)

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Jan 27, 2017 | Advocacy, Drug Prices, Pharmaceutical Industry, Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Don't blame poor little Big Pharma

Big Pharma is in the mood to share! A new report commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade association representing the world's largest global pharmaceutical companies, seems to assert that the blame for high drug prices should be shared with pharmacy benefit managers, retail pharmacies, wholesalers, and, I think, even hospitals - and more. It appears that PhRMA's main target is the pharmaceutical benefit managers.

Noting that President Donald Trump recently said drug companies are "getting away with murder" - I view this report as pharma's attempt to communicate, "hey, prez, we're not alone here in being greedy." The report has merit, which I'll explain below when looking at the dollar numbers. But as far as the American consumer is concerned: murder is murder. Hey, I'm just using the president's words. Due to the killing made by pharma and friends (because they're all friends), 10s of millions of Americans are leaving their scripts unfilled because the prices, one way or the other, are out of reach.

The report is called "The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Gross Drug Expenditures Realized by Stakeholders." You can find a summary of it here but this is my take on it. (more...)

Tagged with: phrma, supply chain

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Jan 20, 2017 | Advocacy, Drug Prices, Drug Safety, Policy, Politics

In this blog post I'm going to get personal. Not about me but about importing medication from Canada and other countries. You can save up to 85% off your prescription medicine prices in the event that you purchase medicine on the internet from verified online pharmacies. Save huge on your cancer prescriptions when you fill your prescription.You'll see what I mean. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to the budget bill, which would have paved the way for future deficit neutral spending to implement new regulations expanding lawful access to lower cost imported medication from wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated 52-46.

Let's forget about the fact that drug companies give members of Congress lots of money. OK, I can't forget: it's about two billion dollars over the last 15 years. Some senators who voted against the amendment cited their concerns with safety as a basis for their vote. Let me explain why they are wrong, at least when it comes to personal vs. wholesale drug importation. (more...)

Tagged with: Bernie Sanders, Congress, Corey Booker

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Jan 18, 2017 | Advocacy

PharmacyCheckerBlog.com Awarded Top 50 Pharma Blog Award

PharmacyCheckerBlog was bestowed an award by Feedspot as one of the top 50 blogs covering pharma! Over the past seven years, our blog has covered a variety of areas related to prescription drug prices, safety, policy, and politics. But our blog's focus is telling Americans the truth about savings and safety related to buying medications from online pharmacies and personal drug importation, and standing up the pharmaceutical industry's efforts to mislead the American people on these issues. (more...)

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Jan 12, 2017 | Advocacy, HIV/AIDS, Personal Drug Importation, Public Health

Truvada - HIV PrEP Medication

In case you didn't know, PharmacyChecker is based in New York. We are a proud American company, one that has helped millions of Americans for well over a decade get the information they need to save money safely if choosing to buy lower cost, imported medication online. While my focus is often the American consumer, I'm very much concerned with medicine access needs globally, too.

The fact is that online access to affordable medication is helping consumers throughout the world. We're going to look at one very interesting and uplifting example from the United Kingdom, where people in at-risk communities are saving themselves from contracting HIV through the safe purchase of medication over the Internet and importing it for personal use.



The title of an article in the New Scientist pinpoints the gist of what's going on: "Massive drop in HIV rates may be due to Internet Drugs." In late 2016, four health clinics in London saw a dramatic drop in new HIV infections of 40% among gay men over a 12-month period. That period corresponded with the launch of I Want PrEP Now (https://www.iwantprepnow.co.u k/), a non-profit initiative that helps people safely buy generic Truvada online. While it's possible that other factors are at play, public health experts attributed the drop in new HIV infections to the ability of people to obtain generic Truvada affordably through the Internet. I cannot vouch for the online pharmacies recommended through I Want PrEP because we have not verified them in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program, but read on to see amazing evidence of the safety and efficacy of the medications ordered. (more...)

Tagged with: emtricitabine/tenofovir, PrEP, Truvada

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Jan 6, 2017 | Counterfeit Drugs, Online Pharmacies, Pharmaceutical Industry

It's time to get real

In 2005, as reported here, an executive from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA or Big Pharma), agreed to commission, to the tune of $300,000, the writing of a fictional novel in which Muslim terrorists poison prescription drugs in Canada to kill Americans who - seeking affordable medication - buy drugs from Canada. The deal with the publisher didn't work out. As the authors tell it, PhRMA offered money to shut them up but they said no. They instead wrote a book about a pharmaceutical company who poisoned Canadian drugs and made it look like Muslim terrorists did it. Nope, I couldn't make this up. That book - The Karasik Conspiracy - is available on Amazon.

Fake news is in the news a lot lately! Like fake news, efforts to dissuade Americans from obtaining safe lower cost medication through personal drug importation can have dangerous consequences: people scared away from safe medication they can afford. There are - in fact - very safe international online pharmacies and dangerous rogue pharmacy sites. Stick to the former avoid the latter. There are tens of millions of Americans not taking medications because of cost -- so it's time to get real. (more...)

Tagged with: AEI, fake news, medscape, Roger Bate, webmd, who

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Dec 28, 2016 | Advocacy, Drug Importation, Drug Prices, Government, Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation

New Year\'s Eve Times Square CrowdAs we close out 2016, I'm not surprised to be reporting and commenting on new survey data by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that 19 million Americans have purchased and imported lower cost medication from Canada and other countries. I suspect the number is higher and I'm sure it's not high enough, as I'll discuss at the conclusion of this post.

First, as reported in Kaiser Health News: "As drug prices have spiraled upward in the past decade, tens of millions of generally law-abiding Americans have committed an illegal act in response: They have bought prescriptions outside the U.S. and imported them." The Kaiser story also reports that many such purchases are made online and while the FDA warns that many online pharmacies are not safe, "...many medicines purchased from another country are the same as the ones patients buy in the U.S." That's all true. The key to safety when buying medications internationally is only purchasing from properly verified websites, ones approved by PharmacyChecker.

Just to recap why importation is a lifeline, let's look at some highlights from recent data. (more...)

Tagged with: AARP, Kaiser Family Foundation, price watch

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Dec 23, 2016 | Drug Prices, Health Insurance, Pharmacy Benefit Managers, underinsured

How would you feel if the cost for your brand name drug went up from a copayment of $44 to a cash price of $614 for a three-month supply ($6.82 a pill) when you went in to fill your script in 2017? If you take brand name Crestor 10mg then that may happen to you if you're signed up with CVS Caremark, which is dropping that drug in 2017. In fact, large PBMs, such as CVS Caremark and Express Scripts are dropping lots of medications from their formularies in 2017. What's insane is that brand name Crestor 10mg from the lowest cost international online pharmacy verified by PharmacyChecker is 29 cents a pill or $26 for a 90 day supply, dispensed from Turkey. If you prefer to buy it from Canada, it will cost a low of about $2.85 per pill, much more than Turkey but still almost 60% less than in the U.S.

We looked at 15 brand name medications that will no longer be available on some PBM formularies in 2017 and found that the maximum savings average is 74% if you purchase the medication from a PharmacyChecker-verified international online pharmacy compared to the lowest cost U.S. pharmacy options. For more on this price analysis check out today's news release.

Most Americans have insurance, about 90%, which is a record high. No, I'm not getting into a discussion about the successes and failures of Obamacare, but you should know that just because you're insured doesn't mean you can afford medication. Looking at Kaiser Family Foundation data, about 41% of underinsured Americans between 18-64 don't fill a prescription because of cost. That's about 16.5 million (too many) people.

Lest you forget, for many of these dropped drugs, the generic is often available in the U.S. at lower cost than the brand name from an international online pharmacy. But not with Crestor. The generic of Crestor, Rosuvastatin, can be purchased at your local pharmacy, with the lowest prices ranging from $35-50 for a 3-month supply, which is more (but still comparable) to the lowest international, online cost of brand name Crestor.

Happy Holidays from PharmacyChecker!

Tagged with: dropped drugs

by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com | Dec 15, 2016 | Drug Importation, Drug Prices, Drug Safety, Narrow Therapeutic Index, Saving Money on Prescription Drugs

People\'s Pharmacy on NTI Drug Savings in CanadaPeople's Pharmacy on NTI Drug Savings in Canada

This past summer we wrote about The Graedon's Guide to Saving Money on Medicine, by the People's Pharmacy, as a very worthwhile read. One of its sections talked about Narrow Therapeutic Index drugs for which generics are usually low cost and available in the U.S. but for some patients only the brand works: and the brands are very expensive. NTI drugs are those for which the precision of a medication's dosage is of even greater importance than for most medications. Often these drugs are measured in micrograms not milligrams.

In its Guide, the People's Pharmacy mentioned several popular medications that fall into the NTI category. We researched their prices and found medications on which Canadian online pharmacies offer spectacular savings, often 80%. They wrote about some of our findings in an article this week called: Can you trust Canadian online pharmacies?

As we've written before, many Canadian online pharmacies are really international online pharmacies because for years they've been partnering with pharmacies in other countries not just filling orders from Canada. But what was interesting about our data on the NTI drugs is that most of the lowest prices were in fact in Canada, not international pharmacies elsewhere.

Expect more in the New Year on how to get to the brand name drug you want at a price you can afford - including a deeper discussion on Narrow Therapeutic Index Drugs.

Tagged with: graedon, People's Pharmacy

Prescription Drug Information, Interactions & Side Effects

Posted

Posted today in Medical

Before you head outside to shovel the snow off your sidewalk this weekend, heed some safety advice so you don't slip on the ice and land in the ER.

It's important to pay attention and take extra precautions while getting around, University of Illinois safety experts say. Even if snow has been cleared from sidewalks, parking lots and other public areas,...

Posted 2 days ago in New Drug Approvals

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Parsabiv (etelcalcetide) for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (HPT) in adult patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) on hemodialysis. You can save anywhere up to 80% on your prescription drug rates in the event that you order medicine on the internet from real internet pharmacies. Save big money on your allergy prescription medications every time you fill your prescription.Parsabiv is the first therapy approved for this condition in 12 years and the only calcimimetic that can...

Posted yesterday in New Drug Approvals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Emflaza (deflazacort) tablets and oral suspension to treat patients age 5 years and older with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle deterioration and weakness. Emflaza is a corticosteroid that works by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity...

Posted 2 days ago in FDA Alerts

[Posted 02/09/2017]



ISSUE: Kingsway Trading Inc. is recalling its 1.06 oz (30g) bottles of "Well Balance Xanthium & Siler Combo (Bi Yan Pian)" Batch No. 130401 & Batch No. 150201 because they contain the presence of undeclared Ephedra Herba (ma huang), an FDA banned item. Dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids pose a risk of serious...

Posted 2 days ago in Medical

Divorce can be plenty stressful for older women. But it doesn't translate into the weight gain that often accompanies getting married later in life, a new study suggests.

Getting divorced or separated after 50 is actually associated with weight loss and an increase in physical activity -- at least in the short term, the researchers reported.

Conversely,...

Posted 2 days ago in Medical

Secondhand smoke exposure has dropped dramatically among public housing residents in Philadelphia since the introduction of a smoke-free policy, a new study finds.

Researchers assessed nicotine levels in four Philadelphia Housing Authority properties before and after the smoke-free policy was implemented in 2015.

While the number of places where nicotine...

Posted 2 days ago in Medical

Ever noticed that when you try to "do it all," the one thing you can count on is getting sick?

Now, a new study suggests why: if you don't get enough sleep, your immune system seems to suffer.

The finding comes from a study of 11 pairs of twin adults. Each pair of twins had significantly different sleeping routines.

The researchers found that the...

Posted 2 days ago in Medical

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Price's Confirmation as Health Secretary Seems Certain

Final approval of President Donald Trump's choice for Health and Human Services secretary seems certain.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., has long pushed for the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act...

Posted 2 days ago in Medical

There are a number of ways parents can help give a boost to their child's immune system, a family doctor suggests.

"The immune system helps us fight infections," said Dr. Palak Shroff, a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

"Immunity develops over time, so the more someone gets exposed, the more the immune system...



Posted 2 days ago in Medical

-- Indoor mold growth is dangerous enough, but people with mold allergies must be especially careful.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers these suggestions to help prevent mold growth:

Focus on limitng moisture. If your water pipes are leaking, fix them at once.

Make sure your home is properly ventilated, especially in bathrooms.

If furniture...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR73iz3e_cI&t=1s

Read more news...

Posted in Blog

REMS Overview Fact: Prescription drugs are complicated, and they are getting more complicated every day. Issues with complex drugs and side effects is not just a concern for the healthcare provider, it directly impacts the patient and caregiver, too. We've all heard the long list of adverse effects and warnings that unfold during a primetime [...]

Posted in Blog



Drugs.com is pleased to announce the introduction of full HTTPS encryption for all web site visitors. With this significant and important change, nearly 70 million monthly visitors will have access to critical health and medicine information in a safe, secure and private environment. Why HTTPS Encryption? Almost everything you do on the Internet leaves a digital [...]

Posted in Blog

Off-Label Drug Use: What Is It? You may be surprised to learn that you have probably been prescribed a medication "off-label" at one point or another by your doctor. Maybe you've heard of "off-label" drug use in the news, but what does this really mean? "Off-label" use of a drug refers to prescribing a medication [...]

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