Why Americans prefer buying Canadian meds: the price or quality?
Dependence on medications
An apple a day keeps a doctor away is as old as the world. However, this principle works out only in rare cases nowadays, if there are any such cases at all. Almost every one of us needs medications to fight aging changes or genetic disorders. Moreover, given the environmental constraints of big cities — lack of fresh air, sunshine, clean water, or limited access to fresh foods — most of us experience health problems that are not related to the causes above and also make us start taking drugs. According to statistics, 24% of the global diseases and 23% of all deaths are attributable to environmental factors.
Thus, an abundant medicine market is here for everyone to fight the consequences of poor environmental conditions, crazy pace of modern life, chronic sleep disorders and stressful jobs, etc. Yet, not every medicine market can be called a consumer-friendly one, even if it does bring physical benefits. The Canadian one is said to belong to a more consumer-friendly category, which is why many Americans prefer buying drugs produced outside their country. Why? Read the details below.
American and Canadian meds prices: there is a substantial difference
Every year, pharmaceutical companies produce more effective and, consequently, more expensive medications. For example, in 2019 the FDA approved Zolgensma from Novartis, gene therapy for a rare childhood disorder that is now the most expensive drug in the world. The treatment cost is $2,125 million per patient.
Unfortunately, is it a common thing today that paying for many original brand drugs is stressful (and thus detrimental to our health) thing to experience. Is there a way out of this situation? One can use generics instead of brand drugs, which are medicines with proven pharmaceutical, biological, and therapeutic equivalence with the original. The price of generics is much lower than of original drugs. The difference in price tags may range from 20 to 800 percent. For example, the well-known Valium costs US$21.79 in the US, and a similar drug, Diazepam, costs $7.99; muscle relaxant Flexiril costs $25.79, and Cyclobenzaprine, its analog, costs US$20.49; Inderal (a relaxation drug) costs $19.99, and its nameless analog, Propranolol, — $4.99. And, it is just a few medications for acknowledgement.
Currently, in the United States, more than 60 percent of all prescribed medicines are generics. Similar statistics are observed in the countries of Western Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc.
In addition to the use of generics, Americans find another way to reduce healthcare costs by buying drugs in neighboring Canada. The difference in the prices set for many life-saving medicines in America and Canada is striking. Commonly, Americans cross borders with Canada to buy a supply of meds, but there is another option to order them online through licensed distributors. One can access a large assortment of generic drugs at IHT Pharmacy, and decide what is worth more for his medical condition — buying one pill at exorbitant price, or a few generics at discounted prices. Obviously, the last option is more favorable for U.S residents.
Let’s consider insulin, for instance. As Huffington Post says, the cost of one bottle in the US is about $340, while in Canada it is about $34. Additionally, few of us know that Frederick Grant Banting, a doctor, and physiologist, co-discoverer of insulin, sold his share of the patent to the University of Toronto for $1! The motives were humanistic — Bunting wanted all people to have access to the vital insulin, regardless of their social status and wellness category.
So what is the reason for such a tremendous difference in drug prices?
Medicine prices in America
Drug pricing issues have been causing concerns for many years among the entire population of the USA, including patients, doctors, and even politicians. The US government does not participate in the formation of prices and does not limit the cost of medicines, which sometimes isn’t justified by high R&D costs; price-setting mechanisms sooner depend on the payer’s maximum capabilities. Thus, no price control policies are in place to curb price skyrocketing, especially if a given drug is designed for a rare health disorder or is in huge demand. Moreover, in the United States, it is enough to get FDA approval to sell a particular drug, while in other countries it may take years for clinical trials before a new medicinal product is added to the list of officially approved drugs.
It is no wonder that pharmaceutical companies use this fertile soil to sell their products, which Americans are ready to buy. As it turned out, regular American spends about $1,000 a year on drugs. It is 40 percent more than in Canada, and 2 times more than in Germany or France. In addition to buying more medicines than people in other countries buy, Americans also overpay for them. Prices in the US for patented drugs are 50–60 percent higher than in France and 2 times higher than in the UK or Australia. (source: OECD Health Statistics).
All of these — no price control policies, easy market entry, and high consumer spending — make the American pharmaceutical market the largest in the world, with a market share of 40.4 percent of the global total.
Besides, prices for medicine in the US do not standstill. For example, Humira, one of the best-selling drugs in the world, is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. In January 2018, AbbVie raised the price for the drug by 9.7 percent, and in January 2019 — by 6.2 percent. Another pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2007 estimated 10 milligrams of Revlimid (lenalidomide), used to treat adults with multiple myeloma, at $247.28, in 2019 the price rose to $719.82. Such examples are numerous. Drugmakers and companies are not living up to their commitments on pricing. Not being fair to the consumer, or to our Country! — Trump tweeted about the rise of drug prices in the United States in January 2019. Donald Trump has often criticized the cost of many drugs in the US, comparing it to the prices in the Canadian market.
So what about Canada?
Unlike its southern neighbors, the government of Canada takes an active role in drug pricing regulation. Here, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) controls the prices set by manufacturers of patented drugs and does not allow them to be inflated. If the price is found to be too high from PMPRB, the Board appoints public hearings, during which the manufacturer is called to reduce the price and the added value, and this requirement can be reviewed in court.
As a result, many medicines that are not inferior in quality to those sold in America are much cheaper in Canada, which is why hundreds of Americans prefer buying medicines in Canada. Once again, the reasons are obvious:
- Here the prices for a huge range of vitally important medicines are on average 2–6 times lower. You can imagine what this difference in price can mean for people suffering from serious diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.
- Almost all drugs in Canada have their cheaper equivalents — generics, which prices are also higher in the US and are constantly rising.
Buying Canadian medicine is nothing but sensible, as by doing this you enjoy the same quality at a lower price due to the price control policies.