The high price of prescription drugs isn’t just hitting patients in the pocketbook. Non-adherence, often driven by high prices, costs the healthcare system between $100 billion and $290 billion every year, according to a review of studies by Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM). That same review found that of the medications prescribed, between 20% and 30% of them are never filled by patients.
Physicians cannot dictate the price of the medications they prescribe, though they understand the challenges patients face in paying for medications. In practice, physicians’ impact extends only to prescribing a generic or potentially selecting the most affordable option when two or more similar therapies could work for a given patient.
Healthcare plans sometimes give patients enough financial support. However, some people have to make hard decisions when they cannot afford their prescriptions: rationing out medications, facing financial hardship to pay for prescriptions, or — in some cases — skipping doses or going without completely.
Such challenges leave patients to seek alternatives and increasingly American patients are looking to Canada, which regulates drug prices, for more affordable prescription options. The prices over the border can be up to 90% less than the same drug stateside.
Companies have noticed and capitalized on the demand for prescriptions from Canada. For example, Pharma Giant was founded in 2020 and ships both generic and name-brand medications to patients in the United States for an array of indications, from diabetes to arthritis to blood pressure to cancer to allergies.
Also founded in 2020, Buy Canadian Insulin offers more than 3,000 medications, helping U.S. patients afford their prescriptions. Some have express ship services. Companies like these offer U.S. patients a more cost-effective alternative for their prescriptions.
Here’s what that savings can look like in numbers:
Four pens of Trulicity — a brand name medication for Type 2 diabetes — cost $1,117 in the U.S. compared to $282 in Canada.
Rinvoq, which treats several indications including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, runs $11,915 stateside but only $1,749.95 over the border. That translates to almost seven times the cost to buy the same medication in the U.S. instead of Canada.
Likewise, blood thinner medicine Xarelto — used to decrease risk of stroke, pulmonary embolism (PE), and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) — costs 5.5 times more in the U.S., where it is $1,989 compared to $351 in Canada. Likewise, anticoagulant Eliquis runs $712, compared to $157, a 4.5 times difference in the cost.
Even the common EpiPen costs less in Canada, running $712 in the U.S. compared to $260 in Canada, a difference of 2.7 times.
Such savings really make a dent when patients consider higher-cost prescriptions like plaque psoriasis drug Tremfya. Patients could shell out $14,417 to buy their medication in the U.S. compared to $3,795 to have the drug shipped from Canada.
For diabetics, opportunities to save abound, with several medications clocking in cheaper when purchased from Canada. For example, rapid-acting insulin NovoLog is $392 compared to $79 (almost five times the savings). A1C-lowering noninsulin medication Victoza is $1,345 compared to $375 (three and a half times difference in cost). Insulin Toujeo costs $502 in the U.S. versus $142.50 in Canada (3.5 times difference in price). Further, patients can save on insulin pen Saxenda, where they could pay $515 in the U.S. compared to $1,612 in Canada (three times less).
Cold-chain medications such as insulin are shipped in temperature-controlled packaging to ensure the medication’s integrity upon delivery.
In addition to lowered financial burdens, buying prescriptions from Canada offers another benefit: access to medicines that are out of stock in the United States. While some U.S. pharmacies may not have a particular prescription in stock, Canadian pharmacies might.
Options like these could prove key in helping to solve the crisis of high prescription drug costs and potentially enable patients to better adhere to the treatment protocols their physicians create for them.
Use coupon code MEDCITY at www.buycanadianinsulin.com for additional savings.
Photo: cagkansayin, Getty Images