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Why Prescription Drug Coupons Aren't Enough for Americans

March 1, 2021

high drug prices

In the United States, a significant portion of the population is struggling under the weight of healthcare costs. As if the expensive insurance premiums weren't enough, the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. is higher than anywhere else in the world, which is a major reason that many people have begun looking into ordering their drugs from international and Canadian online pharmacies.

Considering the fact that 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug and half of Americans take at least two prescription drugs, it's safe to say that the costs associated with these necessary medications is a serious problem affecting a large number of people. Of course, this begs the question: what can be done to help people pay for their medications?

Out of necessity more than anything, various websites have popped up promising to help Americans find the best prices for their medication. Some compile data from various pharmacies to help people figure out where they might be able to find their prescriptions at a lower cost, while others compile places where you might be able to find coupons or discounts.

The main question is whether or not any of this is helpful — particularly the coupon idea. It sounds like a good idea in theory, but is it actually helping Americans get their medication?

The Coupon "Solution"

Drug manufacturers sometimes offer coupons as a method of decreasing the price of some of their medications. Overall, it seems like a good concept — or like it could be a good concept.

If something is very expensive, a coupon will bring the price down to help it be more affordable. The consumer gets the feeling that they're getting a "deal" and the manufacturer knows that whatever amount the coupon is for, they're not losing money on the product. Theoretically, it's a win-win.

But coupons for prescription drugs aren't the same as a coupon for your favorite toothpaste brand. We're talking about hundreds of dollars, after all. When you're using a coupon to get a deal on toothpaste, you probably could still afford the toothpaste without the discount. The coupon, in this case, is merely a bonus. It helps you save a dollar, and maybe you're more likely to buy the same brand the next time.

When your prescription costs $500.00, a coupon that slightly lowers its price from impossible to afford to difficult to afford feels like an insult.

Additionally, coupons aren't always available, nor is everyone eligible for a coupon. Simply taking a medication does not make it possible to get a coupon. Most of the time manufacturers will only give them out to people who are in severe need, such as if they live below the poverty line, or if they are uninsured.

Of course, living above the poverty line doesn't mean you can afford your medication. There are dozens of factors there, such as how many medications you need, how expensive the drugs are, your other bills, and how much money you make.

Coupons also don't address the consistent need for medication. Perhaps coupons for some of the most expensive medications that are single or dual doses would be helpful. But if the medication you need requires a monthly refill, how will you know if you can keep getting the coupon? Is it available more than once? Will that same coupon be there next month?

And more importantly — will you even know that a coupon exists in the first place?

So… Do Prescription Drug Coupons Actually Help?

Whether or not prescription drug coupons actually help consumers is a subjective question. Given the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs — and the number of prescription drugs that some people need to survive daily — one could make the argument that "every little bit helps."

At the same time, a $50 coupon barely puts a dent in medication that costs hundreds of dollars.

Coupons are just another way that the healthcare system puts the onus on the consumer to figure out a way to bring down their prescription costs. This philosophy runs rampant across the American healthcare system, causing insurance enrollees and the uninsured alike to find ways to save money. Of course, in many cases, this ends up also negatively affecting their health.

Americans, unfortunately, are used to this.

It's not uncommon to hear stories about consumers taking matters into their own hands, despite the wishes of their doctor. They'll cut pills, or stagger doses, knowing that they simply can't afford more pills. They'll not visit the doctor, saving the money so that they can afford just one more prescription refill.

Often, this has catastrophic consequences.

If you cut back on your blood thinners because they're expensive, and you end up developing a blood clot, you could have a heart attack or stroke. If you survive it, you may be facing a different life — perhaps your mobility is affected, or you're unable to care for yourself in the same way you once were able. Throwing a coupon at consumers to "help" them pay for their medication is kind at best and insulting at worst. Consumers don't want coupons. They just want to be able to afford their drugs.

When you look at the long-term effects of medication nonadherence, choosing to forego medical treatment because you can't afford it, or willfully ignoring symptoms of a serious disease because you're afraid of what it will cost, the idea of coupons is ridiculous. Coupons that might help someone be able to afford a prescription for one month doesn't much "help" them at all. It's like a bandage on a gaping wound — it shows you that the industry acknowledges the problem (that medication is too expensive and consumers can't afford it) but refuses to do anything meaningful about it.

While it could be argued that manufacturer coupons are helpful for those who use them, perhaps a more compelling argument could be made that coupons don't do nearly enough. If you cannot afford a $500.00 medication, the chances of you being able to afford a $450.00 medication is pretty slim.

Coupons Have a Much Darker Side

Here's the reality: drug coupons don't exist to save you money. The pharmaceutical industry is trying to make money, and coupons are yet another tool to help them do that.

A 2017 paper in the American Economic Journal found that coupons encouraged consumers to use brand-name drugs more — increasing branded sales by more than 60%. Coupons often make brand-name drugs cheaper than generics for the consumer. This benefit doesn't carry over to insurance companies, who end up paying the same amount. This means insurance companies end up being charged more, which encourages them to raise premiums.

But it gets worse.

Another study, this time in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that when coupon discounts end, consumers don't switch to the cheaper generic — they stick with the brand-name drug that they trust. Patients get used to the medication they've taken for months, and don't want to "risk" switching to something else.

Speaking to the AARP, Jon Conradi, a spokesman for the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, says, "[t]hese coupons inflate costs for everyone. Policy makers and patients shouldn't confuse an advertising play for any kind of solution to the crisis of rising prescription costs."

Many popular websites on the internet claim to be doing consumers a favor by offering them discounts and coupons. These websites are often branded as an alternative to "dangerous" online pharmacies. Yet, the truth can't be any clearer: these websites do not exist to benefit consumers, or to give them "helpful" advice. They are simply an advertising and public relations front for a multi-billion-dollar industry that is trying to vacuum up as much money as they possibly can.

But consumers don't have to put up with it.

Instead of jumping through hoops to get temporary coupons and limited discounts, you can order your medication through an online pharmacy. High-quality, regulated online pharmacies can get you your medication for less money with less hassle, and with no catch.

Finding a Quality Canadian Online Pharmacy

Online Canadian pharmacies and certain international ones employ rigorous safety checks and drug authentication processes.

It can be stressful to find a source you can trust and there are many aspects to consider when searching for the best online pharmacy. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to determine if the one you're looking into is legitimate and trustworthy is to see if they carry the official CIPA logo. To be completely certain that the logo isn't a fake, you can always cross-check the pharmacy's website with the official CIPA list.

The Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) has a list of criteria that online pharmacies must adhere to in order to receive their certification. In order to maintain CIPA certification, the online pharmacy must do the following:

  • Require valid and signed prescriptions
  • Obtain relevant demographic and medical information from the patient and maintain a health profile with medication history to avoid adverse drug interactions (as determined by the pharmacist on staff)
  • Have a licensed pharmacist on staff for patient consultation
  • Cannot sell controlled substances
  • Ensure patient privacy by following the same stringent confidentiality and safety procedures as U.S. pharmacies

Part of the CIPA certification process is verifying that every pharmacy we partner with follows the same rigorous standards. This means that if we source your medication through any one of our different pharmacies, we'll only use one that has been inspected by CIPA — this way, we can ensure the safety and accuracy of the entire chain of possession.

We're very proud of our spotless safety record. We take a significant amount of pride in our work and our mission, which is to provide access to more affordable medication for people who need it. We hold ourselves to the highest of standards because we understand what's at stake.

Getting Started with an Online Canadian Pharmacy

If you're considering an online Canadian pharmacy for the first time, you may be feeling a bit anxious about it, and that's understandable. Anything new can be nerve-racking, but we do our best to make things as easy as possible for you.

To make you feel more comfortable and address any concerns you may have, we've compiled a few resources for you, how-to-order pages, a frequently asked questions page, and dozens of special feature articles that go into greater detail regarding specific drugs and aspects of Canadian online pharmacies.

Furthermore, we have a team of dedicated call center representatives who are highly trained to answer your questions and even walk you through the ordering process, should you like their assistance in that regard. We also have licensed pharmacists on hand to provide medication counseling. We completely understand that sometimes, a phone call and someone to answer your questions in real time is what you need.

If you're ready to place an order or have questions to address beforehand, we'd love to help you. Please feel free to contact us today. And obviously, if you're wondering about your order status.

Our toll-free number is 1-866-539-5330, but if you're catching us in our off-hours, you can always email us. We'll get back to you very promptly.

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