Drug Re-Importation Not Needed

Smart Shopping Here at Home Can Cut the Cost of Drugs in Half, Says NCPA

WASHINGTON, DC (July 24, 2003) -- As Congress this week debates whether to allow re-importation of drugs from other countries, a report released today by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) shows that seniors can save as much if not more on prescription drug costs just by becoming smarter shoppers.

"Seniors can save a lot of money if they shop for drugs they way they shop for bread," said author and NCPA Research Manager Devon Herrick. "Looking to Canada is unnecessary. Savvy shoppers can find as much or more savings here at home."

The NCPA discovered that in most cases, patients can significantly lower their drug costs by comparison shopping among American pharmacies, buying in large quantities and pill-splitting, or by purchasing a generic or other lower-cost substitute drugs. These savvy shopping techniques compare favorably to the savings found from re-imported drugs. For example:

  • For 7 of 10 drugs examined recently by the New York Times, U.S. buyers can lower their costs an average of 38 percent below the price charged in Canada.
  • For all 10 drugs combined, smart buying in the U.S. produces an average cost of 10 percent below buying in Canada.
  • For example, patients can cut their cost of Zocor (a popular drug for high cholesterol) by 5 percent by buying 100 tablets at a time rather than 30. They can cut their costs another 50 percent by buying twice the dose (40 mg vs. 20 mg) and cutting the pills in half.

The NCPA found that U.S. patients can cut their drug costs roughly in half by buying the generic versions of many drugs, such as Synthroid (for hypothyroidism) and Toprol-XL (for high blood pressure) - an option not readily available in Canada.

The NCPA also found some of the savings generated by buying from Canada is lost when shipping costs of $14 to $15 per order on average are added. This can increase the costs of a 90 day supply of Synthroid by 25 percent, for example.