Friday, July 23, 2004

Call Your Senator, US Generics Cheaper Than Canadian counterparts

Isn't this interesting. Or, if you're a SNL fan, "isn't dat speshul"!

Some tidbits:

FDA analysts looked at the seven biggest-selling generic prescription drugs for chronic conditions that became available as generics in the United States since 1993....

For six of the seven drugs, the U.S. generics were priced lower than the brand-name versions in Canada . Five of the seven U.S. generic drugs were also cheaper than the Canadian generics. Of the remaining two U.S. generic drugs, one (enalapril) was unavailable in Canada generically, and its Canadian brand-name version was more than five times the price of the U.S. generic equivalent. The other U.S. generic (metformin) sold for less in Canada both as a generic and as a brand name. Metformin did not become available generically in the United States until January 2002, so U.S. generic prices have likely not fallen to the level they will eventually reach, say the FDA Office of Planning economists who did the study.
A limited sample to be sure, but quite helpful nonetheless when dealing with a "big pharma is destroying my budget" simpleton.

Advocates of legalizing imports of drugs from Canada and other countries have typically cited studies showing that brand-name drugs are much cheaper abroad than in the United States . These studies ignore how competition in the U.S. market lowers generic drug prices so they are lower than drug prices abroad, say FDA economists. U.S. generics have the same quality, safety, and strength as brand-name drugs, and they undergo the same rigorous review by the FDA before they are allowed on the market.
Advocates of reimportation ignore such things because it hurts their already weak argument.

Suffice it to say, Americans pay for access to the best drugs earlier than other countries. Is that worth the premium? Ask Canadians or other foreign citizens who are still awaiting escitalopram, geodon, etc. and instead are being subjected to desipramine for bipolar disorder. Americans pay for the most stringent safety standards. Is that worth the premium? Ask foreigners who have developed tardive dyskinesia from constant usage of thorazine in a country that did not label side effects or dosages correctly.

A premium is paid, for a short period of time before the market kicks in when a generic is developed, but ask yourself whether that premium is worth it. If you think your drugs cost too much, think of the costs involved with not getting those meds.