We all know that in order to get medication at a reasonable price, you basically need insurance to get the latest medication at an acceptable copay. Pharmaceutical companies have a price lock (patent) when new medications come to market. This is basically a price monopoly to recover investment costs from drug development. To add to the mix, different nations negotiate different prices for prescription drugs. In a surprising find (insert sarcasm), the United States pays the highest drug prices. Our neighbors to the north (Canada) pay much lower negotiated prices. Maine recently passed legislation to help its citizens with high drug prices.
Maine recently passed an amendment to the Maine Pharmacy Act. This allows residents of Maine to legally buy prescription drugs from out of the country drug pharmacies. The preferred vendor of choice is Canada’s mail-order program called CanaRx. So now residents can get American prescription drugs at Canadian prices. Keep in mind that this is nothing new. For years, states that border Canada have had seniors take bus trips to Canada to buy life saving prescription drugs. Think about it, the cost of tolls, bus and currency exchange included and the drug prices are still lower north of the border. The main reason is the cost savings on drug prices. Same drug on sale.
Underground Prescription Drug Market
I think this a great amendment. It will put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to either lower prices or keep prices equal among nations. My only concern is the potential for an influx in underground drug sales. Let me explain. I get a prescription for Nexium (acid reflux), get the order by mail from Canada. Then I can sell it to someone in Vermont with a small premium. I obeyed the law but made some money on it and someone in Vermont saved money. There is that potential to create an underground drug supply. No matter how well the system is set up, there is a potential for abuse.
The legal pharmacies that are established in Maine will suffer some decline in revenue. The family covered by insurance will still go to the local pharmacy since they are covered. The uninsured will go to Canada. This kind of goes against Obamacare in the sense that everyone with insurance would pay into the system. That would not be the case since there will be quite a few that can circumvent the system.
Would you order prescription drugs from Canada?