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Do Online Canadian Pharmacies Really Save You Money?

August 12, 2020

high drug prices

Millions of ordinary Americans and their representatives in government have come to the same realization in recent years: prescription drug costs are out of control in the United States. From asthma inhalers and statins to life saving medications, more and more Americans are struggling to pay for the drugs they need — especially if they don't have health insurance (but even when they do in many cases).

As the battle for affordable healthcare and prescription drugs rages on between pharmaceutical giants, the government, and the consumers stuck in the middle of it all, more and more people are looking to the north. Canada is seen as both a potential model — and goal — for some Americans, as well as a solution for cheaper drugs now.

As a result, there are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and misinformation about online Canadian pharmacies and how Americans can save money buying prescriptions from Canada.

Are Prescription Drugs Really Cheaper in Canada than in the United States?

In a word, yes. The price and level of savings varies for every medication, but on average, Canadians pay much less for the same medications as their American neighbors. The differences between the American and Canadian healthcare systems play a fundamental role in how much prescription drugs ultimately end up costing consumers in their respective countries, but in many cases that's where the differences end.

By and large, pharmaceutical companies sell the same medications at a much higher cost in the United States than they do in Canada and other countries simply because they can. For all of the misplaced fears about quality and safety, Americans are simply paying much more for the same drugs, for no other reason than to boost the pharmaceutical companies profit margins.

How Much Can Americans Really Expect to Save with an Online Canadian Pharmacy?

It depends on the prescription, but there are many instances where the same drug is twice as expensive in the U.S. as in a Canadian pharmacy, if not more. Here are just a few examples of the level of savings that Americans can expect by ordering their prescriptions from a trusted, certified online Canadian pharmacy that also offers drugs from international pharmacies.

Abilify (Aripiprazole)

The antipsychotic drug Abilify is a great example of some of the massive price discrepancies that exist between American and international and Canadian pharmacies. In the United States, the average cost for a 30-pill supply of a 2mg prescription is $940. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, the same exact prescription is available to order online for $119.99.

That's over $800 in savings in a single month, which would be significant under any circumstances, even if Abilify were a short-term medication that only needs to be filled once or a few times.

However, as an antipsychotic prescribed to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other mood disorders, the medication is generally prescribed as part of ongoing and long-term treatment. Even if it's only prescribed for a few months, ordering Abilify from a certified online Canadian pharmacy and international drugstore website means savings of thousands of dollars for Americans.

Asthma inhalers

Asthma inhalers usually top the list of prescription medications that have been subject to especially problematic price hikes in recent years. Since many asthma clusters in the United States are more concentrated in lower income areas, even modest cost increases can make it difficult for parents to afford the inhalers their children desperately need.

Asthma is a chronic illness so asthma sufferers need a consistent supply of inhalers for the long term. In Canada and internationally, Flovent HFA asthma inhalers range from about $38 to just under $100 depending on the dose. In the U.S., prices depend on everything from insurance coverage to the pharmacy where the prescription is filled, but the average cost of the same inhaler is over $200.

Viagra (Sildenafil)

Another aspect of prescription drug prices that highlights the vast disparities between the Canadian and American model is the cost of and availability of generic alternatives to brand name pharmaceutical drugs. Viagra is a great example. Since it first hit the market in 1998, Viagra has been a reliable moneymaker for Pfizer. In the first few years, the erectile dysfunction (ED) medication had generated $400 million in sales. By 2018, yearly Viagra sales were approaching $2 billion.

But the popularity and revolutionary nature of the drug didn't necessarily make it affordable. After 20 years on the market, Viagra is still shockingly expensive in the United States, with an average cost of about $60-$65 per pill. Generic alternatives (sildenafil) finally became available a few years ago, but can still cost as much as $30 per pill, which is still expensive for a generic drug.

By comparison, American men can buy Viagra from a reputable international or online Canadian pharmacy for about $13 per pill for the brand name, and between $2-$3 per pill for the generic. So in the case of Viagra (though it's hardly the only one), the brand name version of the drug is less than half of what the generic version costs in the United States at many pharmacies.

Statins

Statins are a commonly prescribed drug in the United States to lower cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart attacks. Lipitor and Crestor are two of the most popular types of statins, but there are several others including Zocor, Lescol, Livalo, and Pravachol (brand names).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90 million Americans over the age of 20 have cholesterol levels that are higher than what's considered healthy, and almost 30 million have cholesterol levels that put them at risk for heart disease. According to recent studies, statin use nearly doubled in the U.S. between 2003 and 2013.

As with any prescription drug in America, the cost of Lipitor fluctuates depending on the usual variables, but averages about $200 for a 30-pill prescription. A 30-pill prescription of Crestor can cost $400 or more.

The cost of ordering a 30-pill prescription of Lipitor from an online Canadian pharmacy ranges from $43 to $66, depending on the dosage. The cost of Crestor in Canada ranges from $55 to $82.

Why are Prescription Drugs So Much Cheaper in Online Canadian Pharmacies?

Ordering prescription drugs from a reputable online Canadian pharmacy is one of the few instances where the phrase "you get what you pay for" doesn't exactly hold up, at least not in the way that most people have come to interpret the phrase, especially in the United States.

One of the main concerns that Americans have when buying prescription drugs through a Canadian pharmacy online is whether they can trust the safety and quality. After all, Americans have the "best healthcare system in the world," right? So isn't the high cost of prescription drugs just the price to pay for the highest quality medication?

Unfortunately, that's not really the case at all. In fact, while that line of thinking is perfectly understandable, it's actually pretty far off from the truth. Many Americans who are unfamiliar with how international and online Canadian pharmacies work are surprised to learn that they've been paying much more than Canadians and others for the same exact prescription drugs. How is that possible?

It boils down to the way that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to market and sell their products in Canada (and most other countries) vs. the United States. Many of the elements that drive up costs in the American system simply don't factor into the cost and availability of prescription drugs and medical services in Canada. Not only is the American system set up to be more expensive, it's inherently more complex, with multiple layers that drive up the costs even more.

The process for determining prescription drug costs in Canada is a lot more transparent and straightforward than in the United States because the Canadian government acts as the chief negotiator and gatekeeper to the market and its citizens. Other countries' governments perform a similar function for their citizens too.

Pharmaceutical companies negotiate their prices with the government, which determines what a fair and acceptable price is, with the goal of making medications affordable and accessible to all Canadians at a fair price. The government has the ultimate negotiating power, so the pharmaceutical companies must agree to the terms set by the Canadian government if they want access to the Canadian market (which they obviously do).

In the U.S., where the government has little to no genuine desire to regulate prescription drug prices and put price controls in place, the pharmaceutical companies are allowed to set their own prices without limits and prioritize their profits over the health and wellbeing of American citizens.

There Are No Such Thing as Pharma Bros in Canada

One of the most notorious examples of pharmaceutical industry greed and profiteering is the notorious “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli (though he's hardly the only one). It's important to keep in mind that Shkreli was actually a hedge fund manager and not a healthcare or medical professional with any notable background or expertise in the pharmaceutical or healthcare industry.

However, in 2015, Shkreli founded Turing Pharmaceuticals and acquired the rights to several drugs, most notably Daraprim, an antiparasitic drug prescribed to treat toxoplasmosis. Virtually overnight, Shkreli increased the price of Daraprim from about $13.50 a pill to $750. The ensuing public outcry and scandal led to high profile congressional hearings and Shkreli was separately tried for and convicted of securities fraud for swindling investors.

Despite Shkreli's downfall, pharmaceutical giants continue to hike prices on prescription drugs, and many medications have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled in price over the course of just a few years, with little to no justification other than corporate profits.

This simply isn't possible in Canada and other countries because prescription drugs aren't treated exclusively as commodities and consumer products to be exploited for profit. The Canadian government has safeguards and controls in place to protect its citizens from price gouging, and every Canadian can typically expect to pay a reasonable price for their medications regardless of where they work, how much money they make, their age, their medical history or health status, their marital status, where they live, or any of the other factors that Americans have to worry about.

As if inflated prescription drug costs weren't bad enough, Americans are also faced with exorbitant health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays which make their overall healthcare even more unaffordable. The problem is especially compounded for the millions of Americans living with chronic illnesses that require at least one, but often several long-term prescriptions.

Even something as basic as an asthma inhaler for one or more children can be priced out of reach for families with modest incomes. In such cases, not only do online Canadian pharmacies help Americans save thousands of dollars every year, they may actually be the only hope for actually getting the prescriptions filled at all.

If you're interested in saving money on your prescription medications by ordering from a certified online Canadian pharmacy, we can help. Our customer service department is available to answer all of your questions and concerns, and will provide the information you need to make an informed decision. To learn more about our products, services, and the process for ordering from NorthWestPharmacy.com, call our toll free number at 1-866-539-5330, or contact us via email today.

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