As a U.S. citizen, here's my bottom-line experience with ordering a prescription drug from a Canadian pharmacy: I'm saving hundreds of dollars a year, and the quality of the generic drug seems just as good.
So, what's not to like? Well, only one thing so far.
The drug I'm getting is Dutasteride, the generic version of GlaxoSmithKline's Avodart, a prostate shrinking medication. (Like I said before, a prostate exam is the only time a man doesn’t want to hear from a female who is inspecting his genital area that he's larger than average.)
The Canadian pharmacy I'm using is called -- no big surprise -- Canada Pharmacy. I've been happy with their service, but wasn't aware that the generic Avodart I ordered was coming from India via the United Kingdom.
I sent in my order for 100 Dutasteride capsules on December 30, 2010. Canada Pharmacy told me it was shipped on January 3, 2011. But the package didn't arrive until mid-February.
When I asked what was taking so long, I got an email that said:
Please be aware that mail service in the UK from where your order has shipped has increased their security measures for items sent to the United States in response to restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and this may cause some delays on the shipment of your order. The recent icy weather has also caused some delays. We apologize for your inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
Hopefully my next refill won't take so long to arrive.
Even with the time it took for me to get the order, I'm happy that I started using a Canadian pharmacy rather than getting brand Avodart through my Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon individual insurance plan.
Regence's increasingly crappy plan, now called "Evolve Plus," has a $500 deductible for prescription drugs. The full price for 30 Avodart capsules from our independent pharmacy has been $108. After the deductible is met, Regence pays 50%, or $54 -- leaving me to pay the remaining $54.
Given that I also take two much cheaper prescriptions each month, for four months I'd have to pay full price for Avodart until the $500 deductible was met. That's $432 ($108 times four).
For the remaining eight months in a year, I'd pay another $432 ($54 times eight). So getting brand name Avodart through our Regence insurance plan would cost me $864 a year, averaging $72 a month for 30 capsules. That's $2.40 a day.
By contrast, Canada Pharmacy sells 100 capsules of generic Avodart (dutasteride) for $145. That's $1.45 a day. So I'm saving 95 cents a day ($2.40 minus $1.45) on Avodart by getting my prescription filled through Canada Pharmacy.
Which is $347 a year.
All I had to do was get a new prescription from my doctor which said something like "generic OK." After scanning it, I emailed the prescription to Canada Pharmacy along with a scan of my driver's license. Pretty easy way to save $347.
The generic Avodart is made by an Indian company, Cipla. I'm comfortable with taking dustasteride that comes from India. A Business Week story says that Cipla has been one of the most successful Indian companies which specialize in making low-cost versions of American drugs.
And Canada Pharmacy assures its customers that the generics it sells are safe:
Yes, Canadian generics are just as safe and effective. Canada has a government agency that tightly monitors the safety and quality of all drugs sold in Canada.
So if you're unhappy, as I was, with how much prescription drugs cost in the United States, even when insurance pays some of the tab, consider a Canadian pharmacy. It's been a good move for me -- $347 a year worth.
(Previously I'd ordered some other items from Canada Pharmacy and signed up for a plan that gave me free shipping for a year for $20, if I recall correctly. So that's why I didn't include the usual $10 shipping fee in my cost savings.)