Saving Money on Medicine

The cost of prescription medicine has been skyrocketing. What about those who don't have insurance and are not old enough to quality for Medicare? What can they do? Is shopping for medicines in Canada or Mexico a viable option or is it an illegal activity?

Possible Choices


Defending your Rights

The info. in this box came from The Canadian Drugstore, an online pharmacy service 

This page is dedicated to helping our customers defend their right to buy affordable medication from Canada


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the second largest drug manufacturer in the world, wants to stop you from buying your medicine from Canada .  Starting January 21, GSK has refused to supply any Canadian pharmacy that fills prescriptions for customers in the United States .

If you want to read the full text of GSK’s statement on this issue, click here:

then scroll down to "January 21, 2003"


On February 3, 2003, we launched a campaign encouraging all of our customers to take immediate and direct action to defend their right to choose affordable prescription drugs.

To read our communication to customers, click here

To read our media release, click here

To read the customer responses to our letter regarding GSK, click here

To read the customer letters sent to GSK, Senators, Congressmen, etc., click here


1.           Tell GSK to put PEOPLE before PROFITS

For information on how to contact GSK to make your opinion known, click here.

2.         Make sure YOUR voice is heard

For information on how to contact national and local news media  as well as your elected representatives — click here.


Profits seem to be the only thing GSK cares about.  Click here for information on how to hit them where they’ll feel it.



or ---- 

or ---- view this excerpt.
One Week in the Life of Retail and Discount Drug Prices
  Average Retail of Washington Area Pharmacies* Merck-
Readers Digest "YOUR
AARP Pharmacy "Members Choice" Drug
20 mg.30 tabs;
101.34 80.42 m
85.26 p
84.19 m
88.33 p
84.43 55.65
20 mg.30 tabs;
135.82 108.87 m
115.79 p
109.67 m
112.45 p
108.04 78.11
200 mg.30 caps;
86.56 64.98 m
68.69 p
64.18 m
71.20 p
69.46 45.78
  $25 individual
$40 family
64.18 m
71.20 p
None None
Regular mail
charges vary
  Free $2.25 Free $5 per prescription

*Calulated from prices at 12 chain and independent pharmacies; averages reflect 10% senior discounts given by some pharmacies.
NOTE: All Prices compiled in one week in July 2001. Prices may vary from day to day. Greater savings may be gained on 90-day supplies.


Medicare Header

Drug Discounts…
Will Bush Plan Save You $$$?

September 2001

Announcing his new plan for a Medicare prescription drug discount card, President Bush said: "Present the card at a participating pharmacy and you receive a substantial discount. It's as simple as that."

Thomas Scully, head of the federal agency that runs Medicare, agrees. He calls it a good "no-brainer" idea that—until a Medicare drug benefit works its way through Congress—will provide immediate relief with no need for new legislation and at little cost to the government.

But the prescription drug issue is seldom simple and this idea has sparked controversy, too.

Richard Gephardt, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, calls it a "meaningless gesture" that might delay passage of a real drug benefit in Medicare. Several national associations of pharmacists have filed a lawsuit against the plan, saying it was hatched "in secret" and is "unlawful" and "unworkable."

For Medicare beneficiaries without year-round insurance, though, the key question is how far the card will actually reduce their drug costs.

Retail prices in one urban area varied widely at randomly selected pharmacies—from $71 to $121 for 30 pills of Lipitor.

Scully concedes that at least initially the discounts—estimated as 10 to 25 percent off brand name retail prices (maybe more for generics)—may be no greater than those in existing discount plans. These range from discounts at neighborhood pharmacies to nationwide plans on the Internet.

But long term he expects "volume"—"the purchasing clout of millions of seniors," in Bush's words—to produce deeper discounts for older and disabled Americans.

Some analysts question whether volume alone will allow the companies running the program to wrest significantly lower prices from the drugmakers—a complex process—and how much of those savings will be passed on to customers.

Under the Bush plan, any Medicare beneficiary can enroll in one of several competing discount programs run by pharmacy benefit management companies (PBMs), which already negotiate prices for health plans and other groups.

At press time it was not known how many PBMs Medicare will license to take part. AARP, which has run its own drug discount program for members since 1959, intends to apply.

Some programs will offer mail order as well as pharmacy-based services. Not all will offer every drug, nor operate in every locality.

Joining will cost a one-time fee of up to $25 (though some cards may cost less). You can sign up with only one program at a time but can switch to another after six months.

Enrollment is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, 2001, with discounts available from Jan. 1, 2002. Medicare will advertise the program nationally and answer beneficiaries' questions on its hotline, (800) 633-4227.

Starting Jan. 1, 2003, the PBMs will be required to post their comparative prices on a joint website. That will be the first time consumers have ever been able to see a range of drug prices at a single glance.

To illustrate the value of such comparisons, the AARP Bulletin compiled some prices for three brand name drugs often used by older Americans. [See chart above.]

Retail prices in one urban area, for instance, varied widely at randomly selected pharmacies during one week in July—from $71 to $121 for 30 pills in the case of Lipitor, which lowers cholesterol. Among existing nationwide discount plans, prices were only a few dollars apart.

The deepest discounts came from Canada, where drug prices are limited by law. Billy Shawn, president of one Internet pharmacy,, declines to say how many U.S. prescriptions he fills. "But there are lots, and it's growing every day," he says. More than 80 percent of his American customers, he adds, are over age 60.

Importing drugs from Canada for personal use remains open to challenge. Recently the House passed enabling legislation by a huge majority.

If the bill passes the Senate and is sent to Bush, the president may face a dilemma: whether to sign into law a measure that could substantially undercut the prices in his own drug discount plan.



Radio Programs

Saving Money on Medicine #456

June 21, 2003

The cost of prescription medicine has been skyrocketing. Politicians have been promising a Medicare drug benefit for years. Now, there is a glimmer of possibility that it could become reality. How will it work? Will people actually save money? And what about those who don't have insurance and are not old enough to quality for Medicare? What can they do? Is shopping for medicines in Canada or Mexico a viable option or is it an illegal activity?

GUESTS: Bill Hubbard, FDA Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning; Billy Shawn, Founder of Canada Drug Store, an online pharmacy service, AARP will present the senior citizen perspective.

To order a copy of this radio show you can call (800) 732-2334. Shows are available on CD for maximum sound quality. The cost, including shipping and handling, is $15. Visa, MasterCard and Discover are accepted, or you can send a check for $15 to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy (Show #, date or topic); PO Box 52027; Durham, NC 27717-2027.



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