If you watch the news, you might have seen there's a proposal underway that would allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada, where costs are lower. Drugs are cheaper in other countries because their governments control the prices.
As it now stands, we can go across the border and bring back a three-month supply of our medications for personal use, but there are pitfalls. Technically it's illegal, but it's often overlooked at the border. Going to Canada for your drugs can be inconvenient, and travel costs can eat into the savings gained by buying lower-cost prescriptions. If you try to buy by mail, you don't really know who's on the other end — the drugs could be counterfeit and actually from a different country. Then there's the cost of shipping and the exchange rate.
Here are some things to keep in mind while this proposal is being hashed out:
- Canadians aren't too happy about it, because they already have shortages.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn't happy about it, because the FDA thinks it's protecting us from bad drugs.
- The drug companies in the U.S. definitely aren't happy about it. The drug industry can do what it likes, including passing along the costs of research and development to us, the consumer. Medicare, for example, isn't allowed to negotiate for lower prices.
If your drugs are expensive, talk to your doctor. There might be a suitable generic. Price shop at various pharmacies. Call the manufacturer and ask if it has coupons or a program with reduced costs. Ask your pharmacist for the lowest possible discounted price. If you're on Medicare Part D, be sure you're using a preferred pharmacy. Look online at www.goodrx.com for low cost drugs near you.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on the news.