For practicing physicians, half the battle in treating patients is compliance – and often that is dependent on whether a patient has access to the costly medications they need to maintain their health. The high cost of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. can be a deterrent, particularly with brand-name drugs. This is why many U.S. patients opt to obtain their medications online via a Canadian pharmacy – and why some U.S. physicians are partnering with Canadian pharmacies to help patients in need.
Helping patients in need: Physician partner program can save Americans up to 90% on prescription drugs
It’s no secret that drug prices in the U.S. are significantly higher than in other countries. About a quarter of U.S. adults surveyed last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll reported not filling a prescription, taking a partial dose, or skipping doses altogether because of the cost.
“We see patients who can’t take the full dose. They cut their pills in half. They skip doses,” shared David Mitchell of the nonprofit organization, Patients for Affordable Drugs, during a Commonwealth Fund podcast on the high cost of U.S. drugs.
A 2021 RAND report found prescription prices in the U.S. to be more than 250% higher than those in 32 comparison countries. A JAMA review determined the main factor for this price discrepancy to be market exclusivity, with 72% of the money spent on prescriptions going toward brand-name drugs, which make up just 10% of dispensed medications.
U.S. drugmakers typically retain patents and market exclusivity for an average of 12.5 years after FDA approval and often longer by tweaking a formulary and delaying the drug patent’s expiration.
For these reasons, thousands of Americans cross the northern border into Canada every year to fill their prescriptions at a significantly lower cost than U.S. medications.
The reason why medication is cheaper in Canada is due to Canadian government drug price regulation. Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board decides whether the pricing is reasonable to ensure Canadians can afford their needed medication. As a result, drug manufacturers cannot significantly raise prices.
Unknown to many, Americans can benefit from Canadian drug price regulations – and they don’t need to drive across the border to do it. Pharma Giant (PG) launched in 2020 with the goal of helping Americans get access to affordable medications and, in some cases, deal with drug shortages. Patients can search for over 3,000 medications, including drugs for allergies, arthritis, asthma, blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. Generic equivalent drugs are also available on PG, some of which may not be available in the U.S. market.
Current U.S. law directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exercise discretion in permitting the personal importation of drugs when the product is “clearly for personal use and does not appear to present an unreasonable risk to the user,” which is reinforced in FDA guidelines. There are other caveats to importing medications for personal use. A patient must authorize in writing that it is for personal use only. Patients can only be dispensed a three-month supply at a time, and to place an order, patients must provide a prescription from a licensed physician. It’s important for U.S. health consumers to vet their Canadian pharmacies to ensure they are following U.S. law and FDA guidance.
In 2021, PG launched its partner program for American physicians interested in helping their patients get access to affordable medications. The no-cost membership program is especially helpful for individuals without medical coverage and those who have poor coverage or may not have access to certain drugs. The program is also useful for Medicare Part D patients who fall into a drug coverage gap each year known as “the donut hole”. This translates to higher co-pays for patients for the period that a temporary limit is placed on what the drug plan will cover.
U.S. doctors can apply to the PG Partner Program by completing an application form and scheduling a follow-up call with a PharmaGiant support specialist or pharmacist for onboarding.
Through this partnership, U.S. physicians can prescribe medications to patients, who can have them express-shipped to their homes. Cold chain medications, such as insulin, are shipped in insulated containers with pharmaceutical-grade gel packs to ensure quality is maintained throughout the delivery process, which typically takes 7-10 business days. A licensed Canadian pharmacist is also available to answer consumers’ questions.
For more information on the PharmaGiant Partner Program, visit www.pharmagiant.com/partner-program.
Pharma Giant partners with a network of licensed and accredited pharmacies to offer low-cost medications online to U.S. residents with a prescription.
For more information, visit www.pharmagiant.com.