In an earlier posting, I cautioned about the use of online Canadian pharmacies because many of them that show up on Google searches are bogus. The one that usually appears first is reputed to be run by a Russian mafia mob. See: http://parkinsonsand5htp.blogspot.com/2010/12/cautions-on-using-canadian-online.htm
However, I’m now taking a closer look at these pharmacies because my high-priced Azilect for Parkinson’s will soon push me into Medicare’s Donut Hole.
The Donut Hole
Here’s a refresher on the Donut Hole: it begins when your total retail drug costs (not just what you paid) reach $2840. Last year, once you hit that amount, you had to pay the full cost of your prescription meds until your “true out of pocket” (or TrOOP) costs exceeded $4550. The $4550 does not include the portion of your prescription expenses paid by the insurance carrier or your monthly Medicare Part D plan premiums; TrOOP only includes the amount you actually spent yourself.
In 2011, anyone reaching the Donut Hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs and a 7% discount on all generic medications.
My 2011 Drug Costs
I’ve signed up for AARP’s MedicareRX Preferred with a monthly premium of $39.60. Premium payments do not count toward the total retail cost used for figuring the Donut Hole.
As of today, my total drug cost for the year-to-date is $2431.07 – a little more than $400 short of the $2840 which will toss me into the Donut Hole.
Azilect is my main culprit. No generic is available. AARP estimates that if I continue to fill my Azilect prescriptions through the plan, my annual cost will be $4581! This is broken down as follows:
$3017.34 paid by the plan
$991.84 paid by me
$582.34 paid by the drug company supplying Azilect (under the Health Care Reform Law, those of us falling into the Donut Hole in 2011 will get a 50% discount on the cost of brand-name drugs while in the Hole).
My other costly med is Lipitor which also does not have a generic (at least in the U.S. — it apparently does in Canada, as we’ll see later). AARP figures my annual cost for this drug at $1812 (plan paying $1271; me $540).
The Canadian Option
Since posting the caution about online Canadian pharmacies, I have learned of a reputable one – CanadianPharmacyMeds at:http://www.canadianpharmacymeds.com/.
I know one senior who has decided not to buy any Medicare prescription coverage. Instead, he buys generic prescriptions that are offered by Giant, CVS, etc. at $10 for 90 days. He checked on a Medicare prescription drug policy that had a monthly premium of about $40 (cf. my $39.60 with AARP) and it offered one of his generic prescriptions for $1.60 a tablet whereas without insurance he could get it from CVS for 11 cents!
He gets Lipitor and other high-priced brands from CanadianPharmacyMeds. He buys generic Lipitor in Canada (generic is not available in the U.S.) in 40mg tablets and cuts them in half for his 20mg prescription and in quarters for his wife’s 10mg prescription.
This savvy senior says he’s found that this online pharmacy has the best prices and very good service. The per-order shipping cost is, naturally, higher than you’d expect if ordering from a U.S. supplier. But they offer the option of signing up for lifetime shipping at a cost of $80.95 for a family and $60.95 for an individual.
I checked out Azilect and Lipitor at CanadianPharmacyMeds and this is what I found:
Azilect: If I divide the total cost given by AARP for staying with their plan ($4581) by 365 (I take one pill a day), the cost per pill is $12.55. With CanadianPharmacyMeds, I could get a 60-day supply for $297 or $2.42 per pill.
Lipitor: Dividing the AARP annual cost of $1812 by 365 results in a cost per pill of $4.96. The cost per pill with CanadianPharmacyMeds would be $1.
Totaling the two, AARP’s pills cost $17.51. CanadianPharmacyMeds cost $3.42.
Food for thougt, eh?