Do you or someone you love need a life-saving drug that your insurer won’t cover or you can’t afford? Consider importing it. Outside the U.S., prescription drug costs are far lower than in the U.S.
Sophie Cousins writes in The New York Times about one 60- year old Tasmanian man with hepatitis C, Greg Jefferys, who wanted the 12-week oral hepatitis C drug called sofosbuvir or Sovaldi, which the Australian authorities had not yet approved. However, it was available in the U.S. for $84,000 and in India for under $1,000. So, he identified a doctor and a licensed pharmaceutical supplier, flew to India, and got the treatment he needed to kill his virus.
Importing drugs for personal use is legal in Australia, and no one in the U.S. has ever been prosecuted for so doing. Jefferys ended up starting a small business to help people get the hepatitis C vaccine shipped to them in their home countries. He set up buyers’ clubs in different countries to make it as easy as possible for people who needed the vaccine to get it.
If you need the vaccine or any other costly drug and don’t want to travel to get it, you can often get it shipped to you for personal use. Bull Pharmachem in Mumbai is a licensed wholesale distribution house, shipping hepatitis C drugs, as well as drugs for hepatitis B, cancer and H.I.V. You can get the hepatitis C drug in 10 days from India.
While you always need to be careful about the source of the drugs you’re buying online, there are no reported patient safety issues if you buy drugs from reputable licensed pharmacies. If you are careful, you should have the same treatment outcomes whether you buy the drug online or not according to a recent study in Australia.
Importing drugs for personal use is not a wholesale solution to the astronomical prices Congress allows pharmaceutical companies to charge for drugs. But, millions of Americans have no choice but to do it. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would bring down the cost of scores of drugs to about the same price as other wealthy countries pay. But, the Republican-led Senate is not prepared to take it up. So, for now, importation is often the only option.
If you want Congress to rein in drug prices, please sign this petition.
This post was originally published on August 2, 2017 and updated.
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