That is the short answer to the question. Let’s explore some of the details of that finding.
First off, just what kind of savings are available? My standard answer is up to 80%. But that really depends on which prescription drug you fill your order for. Most of the prescriptions I have priced over the years average at least 40%. Lets look at a real world example.
Let’s suppose that you are taking the blood thinner Plavix. I just shopped two of the best Canada pharmacies online. The first one returns a price of $279 for 84 tablets of the brand name and $141 for 90 tablets of the generic, Clopidogrel. Plavix is still covered by a patent in the United States, but, apparently, in Canada, the patent has expired. I did not realize this until I started writing this article.
So, with Canadian pharmacy #1, we can fill prescription in Canada for as little as $141. Canada pharmacy #2 charges $189.99 for 84 of the brand name Plavix and $134.99 for 120 of generic Plavix. Quite a difference in price there already just by pricing two pharmacies.
The two Canada pharmacies are located in different Canadian provinces, so that may explain the difference in the prices on the brand name prescription.
But finding the least expensive Canadian prescription is a task for another day. Today we are going to compare prescription drugs filled in Canada with those filled in American pharmacies.
Now let’s price the same prescription at two American chain drug store pharmacies, CVS and Walgreen’s. We’ll also price the same prescription at Wal-Mart. Keep in mind that the Average Wholesale Price of Plavix is $518.50 for 90 tablets. If you fill your prescription in the United States, you will pay more than Canadian prescription prices, even if the pharmacy sells it at wholesale!
The two chain stores return prices in the same range: $523.99 for 90 tablets at CVS and $384.69 for 90 tablets at Walgreens. The big surprise for me is that Wal-Mart is also in the same range at $516.78 for 90 Plavix tablets. I wish I could ask the Smiley Face what is up with that.
Actually, it is not the fault of the pharmacies themselves. Though there is no doubt a hefty margin of profit built into their prices, the wholesale price is almost three times the retail price at Canadian pharmacies. And the American pharmacy is unable to even stock the generic Plavix by law. Actually it is by court decree, but that would constitute a rant if we breach that subject.
So United States patients can save a lot of money by buying prescription drugs in Canada. Is this a safe practice?