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Fact #1: With the exception of Japan, America pays more for their prescription medications than any other country. The drug companies have many elected leaders & officials in their hip pocket. Efforts to regulate drug prices are often defeated. No other American industry wields so much political clout.

It can be defeated by educating one person at a time. eDrugSearch.com's goal is to educate consumers on how to make smart purchase choices on their medication that benefit the consumer, not the drug companies.

Online Consumers: According to a recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll, four out of five (80%) U.S. adults indicate that they favor allowing people to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries if they are much less expensive. A vast majority (84%) of the public strongly or somewhat agrees that the law banning pharmaceutical imports is intended to protect drug companies’ profits, while only thirty-six percent say this law helps protect Americans from potentially harmful drugs.

Online Pharmacies: It is estimated that there are approximately 140 Canadian pharmacies shipping products to America. Pharmacies in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Israel, and India now have a substantial share of the personal drug important market in the United States. It is difficult to determine the total number of online and mail-order pharmacies.

Fact #2: As early as 2003, drug companies such as Eli Lilly and Pfizer cut supplies to Canadian pharmacies that sold to Americans drug companies which nudged Canadian pharmacies to go global by selling medications online.

Fact #3: It is estimated there are 70 million Americans who lack prescription drug insurance coverage.

Fact #4: Americans spend $125 billion dollars a year on prescription drugs -- that is $430 for every man, woman and child in the country.

Fact #5: Pharmaceutical manufacturers get enormous tax breaks for R&D (research and development).

Fact #6: The profits are recession-proof; drug sales remain locked into a high speed growth pattern. When the economic downturn occurred in 2002, the profits for the top 10 fortune 500 drug companies (35.9 billion) were more than the other 490 businesses put together (33.7 billion) In 2003 their profits dropped to 14.3 percent of sales, the median for all industries is 4.6 percent.

Fact #7: Congress has tried for years to pass legislation for drug price control. The pharmaceutical industry employs a large number of lobbyists; they are larger in number than all the U.S. senators and congressional representatives combined.

Fact #8: Rising drug costs not only affect our finances but they increase the price of our health insurance rates, drugstore services and Medicare.

Fact #9: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) claims the industry’s pricing is necessary to pay the average $800 million to bring a new drug to the market. PhRMA states drug makers will have no incentive to develop new drugs. The drug industry spends more than twice that amount on advertising, marketing and administration costs. Nearly 80% of the industry’s “new drugs” are not significantly different from the drugs already on the market.  Most pharmacies don’t develop their own drugs, most research done on new drugs is conducted by private firms or universities.

Fact #10: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data, 20% of newly patented drugs do not offer any significant improvement over those already in use.  In 2002, seventy-eight new drugs were approved by the FDA.  Of those, only seventeen were deemed by the FDA to have new active ingredients, and only seven were found to be improvements over the older drugs.  On top of that, of the seven found to be an improvement over the older drug, not one of them came from America.

Fact #11: Most new drugs on the market are “me too” drugs.  Me too drugs are new versions of drugs in the distant past.  Drug companies almost never do the initial discovery, the National Institute of Health does.  The drug companies just exploit it.  Seventy seven percent of prescription drugs put out by pharmacies each year are re-released versions of an old drug with better marketing behind it.

Fact #12: When a drug is being looked over by the FDA, they are not required to show that the drug is an improvement over what is already on the market. They just have to show that the drug is better than if you take nothing at all.  In there clinical trails they compare their new drugs with placebos instead of the best current treatment.

Fact #13: America is the only modern country that does not have price controls in place for the pharmaceutical companies to follow.  A price control is a limit created by averaging the sale price of a similar product and setting a maximum price that the drug company can charge for a new drug.  The American government states that price controls stifle creativity, and as a result, less innovative drugs are produced.

Fact #14: Alan Holmer, the president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says, “The principal problem with price controls is you have limitations on access to medicines, and you don't have the newest most innovative treatments." But when asked in a report by ABC’s John McKenzie, “representatives of the pharmaceutical industry could only identify eight drugs not available on Canadian shelves, and three of those are contraceptives.”

Fact #15: Between 1998 and 2002 415 new drugs were produced, of those, 133 were actually new drugs with new molecular bases.  Of the 133 only 58 were priority reviewed which averages out to only 12 innovative drugs a year.  In both 2001 and 2002 only 7 new innovative drugs were produced.  Of the 7 produced in 2001 5 came from a Swiss company called Novartis, one from Merk, and one from Allergan.

Fact #16: Research and Development is only 11 percent of sales where as marketing is 36%.

Fact #17: US patent law grants pharmaceutical companies exclusive rights to manufacture and sell their drug for an average of 14 years; that means no one else can produce or sell the same drug.

Fact #18: Most drugs under patent are more expensive because it allows the patent holder to set the price of the drug so they can recoup the costs of “R & D” and make a profit. This is true even if you have prescription drug coverage because most plans make you pay a percentage of the total cost.

Fact #19: Remarketed drugs- once the patent or the right to charge as much as you want for the medication runs out, drug companies invent new drugs to treat the same problem in order to keep the patent (right to charge more).  They just simply switch the marketing over to the new and improved drug.  Examples: Prilosec > Nexium, Claritin > Clarinex, Prozac Sarafem > Proxac, etc...

Fact #20: The prices that drug companies charge have little relationship to the cost of actually making and producing the drug, and could be cut dramatically without coming anywhere close to taking away money for research and development.  Before its patent ran out, the price on Claritin was increased thirteen times over five years, a total increase of over 50%, 4 times the rate of general inflation. 

Fact #21: Until the late 1990’s severe restrictions governed how and where pharmaceutical companies could advertise. In 2000 pharmaceutical manufacturers spent nearly $2.5 billion on influencing doctors, pharmacies and consumers.

Fact #22: Sales of the most advertised drugs increased 25% compared to a 4% increase in sales on all the other drugs combined; No wonder the drug companies spend more on advertising than R&D.

Fact #23: To increase profits pharmaceutical companies must convince doctors to prescribe their drugs. Around 35 major drug companies have hired 70,000 drug reps to visit each of the countries 756,000 doctors to influence their prescribing pattern; that is a ratio of 1 drug rep for every 10.5 doctors. Credible sources say they know a number of doctors and pharmacists who have been guests of drug companies for ski trips, golf outings and luxurious vacations with all expenses paid to learn the “benefits” of the drugs.

Fact #24: In a recent study by the Journal of American Medical Association, it was found that each drug company spends anywhere from 8 to 13 thousand dollars per doctor in advertising. This includes anything from meals and golf with representatives, to all expense paid trips to “conferences” to learn about the new medication.

Fact #25:  Although it is illegal to offer kickbacks to doctors, it is not illegal to offer lavish gifts or free trips as long they throw an “educational” or “research” tag on it. So basically the more severe the kickback laws become, the more doctors will be “educated”.

Fact #26: The number of generic versions of the name-brand drugs that are available in Canada but not in America. Among the 50 most commonly prescribe prescription drugs surveyed, 11 were available in generic form in the U.S., but 18 were available in generic form in Canada.

Fact #27: Why are generic companies allowed to put products on the market in Canada but not in America? Unfortunately drug patents don’t apply everywhere. In order to have its patent honored in Canada (or any other country) the drug company must apply to the government of that country for a “unique patent”. Most countries require that a patent product be manufactured in its own country within at least 3 years of receiving the patent; otherwise it will become void. Hence, most drug companies opt to forgo their patent rights outside the U.S.

Fact #28: The FDA states that they cannot guarantee the safety of drugs sold in Canada. Can the FDA guarantee the safety of drugs sold here? Canada has almost the same safety regulations and system that we use here in the United States. Most of the drugs sold in Canada come from the same source as drugs sold on American drugstore shelves. The FDA says that they cannot guarantee our safety but then overlook the importation anyway.

Fact #29: The single largest importer of foreign drugs is our federal government.  It purchases them for medical experiments as well as to reduce the cost of purchasing of providing medical care to the men and women in the military as well as veterans served by government sponsored programs.  The US also buys foreign drugs when providing humanitarian aid to other countries.  This seems to fly in the face of all the warnings the government gives to consumers about buying drugs from foreign sources. Referenced from the book: Buying RX Drugs Online

Fact #30: Of the 6.6 million Americans that are uninsured, more than half reported having problems paying for there medical bills.

Fact #31: Medicare covers 75% of prescription costs up to $2251 after a $225 deductible.  After $2251, the program pays nothing until expenses reach $5,100.  Once they reach  $5,100, Medicare then pays for 95% of the expenses. According to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 55% of all Medicare beneficiaries are projected to have drug spending that falls in the donut hole's range. The government wanted to provide at least some coverage for beneficiaries with both low and high prescription drug costs.  Although the plan has a $410 billion budget, it is still projected to fall short of the $1.2 trillion the plan will need over the next 10 years. Senate says 7 to 10 million Americans will fall into this gap of coverage. 

Fact #32: According to a report in the Cancer journal, one in five patients miss or delay treatment because of financial complications and if uninsured, nearly 70% miss or delay treatment and 43% went without vital medication.

Fact #33: When a member has financial ties to a company that is up for approval or review, that member is supposed to excuse themselves from the decision.  In the meeting for the approval of Vioxx for of the six members including the chairman, had financial ties to Merk, the maker of Vioxx.  Later after the approval of Vioxx, a clinical trial found that it doubled both the risk of heart attack and stroke, and the drug was taken off the market.  The FDA created an advisory panel to look into the case.  According to the New York Times, on the panel that reviewed the COX-2 inhibitors to determine if they would be placed back on the market, ten of the members that voted had financial ties to one manufacturer.  Oddly enough, the vote was nine to one in favor of Vioxx and the drug was returned to the market.

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