Could importing medicine save you money? 5 facts about personal prescription importation

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of having access to safe, reliable and affordable medications. This is especially critical for Americans with underlying medical conditions who struggle to afford medications. To offset rising drug costs, many Americans import pharmaceutical drugs from Canada and other international pharmacies.

According to the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI) annual survey, savings on prescription medications are greater than ever — $3,744 a year on average. The CDC estimates that over 5 million Americans personally import medicines from abroad, where prescription drugs are 50-90% cheaper than in the U.S.

“I have been ordering necessary, affordable prescriptions from licensed Canadian pharmacies for over 10 years,” said Linda Bull. “If I hadn’t found this alternative, I couldn’t have afforded my prescriptions for COPD and hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal symptoms.”

Bull is just one of over 131 million Americans who take prescription medications and need immediate and long-term cost-saving solutions.

The CPPI survey uncovered several surprising facts about American personal drug importation. Below are five key findings from the report.

1. Price drives drug importation

In January 2022, U.S. prices increased on over 800 medications, causing unreliable access to affordable prescription drugs for millions of Americans. Nearly one in three Americans say they’ve skipped medical treatment due to costs in the previous three months. Missed medication is a leading cause of rising medical expenses, medical complications and even death.

2. Savings

On average, Americans save 73% by personally importing pharmaceutical drugs from certified online Canadian pharmacies. Personal drug importation resulted in about $3,744 in savings in 2021, an average savings cost of $312 per month compared to U.S. pharmaceutical costs.

3. Drug importation on the rise

Because of access to lower-priced medication, personal drug importation is on the rise. In 2019, 8% of Americans reported ordering prescription drugs from online Canadian pharmacies, which increased to 17% by 2021.

This trend is likely to continue increasing as more and more people experience reliable, affordable access to life-saving medications. Of those surveyed, 98% of respondents would recommend importation to their friends and family members.

4. Cost of prescription drugs affects voting habits

Prescription drug costs aren’t just a personal finance and medical issue. The rising cost of medication in the U.S. is affecting how Americans vote. Over 96% of CPPI survey respondents say that addressing the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. is important to the way they vote. Also, 84% say it is very or extremely important to their voting behavior.

5. Finding a reputable online pharmacy

Finding a reputable, licensed international pharmacy is not as difficult as you may think. About 60% of surveyed Americans who import their prescriptions reported that a trusted medical professional, friend or family member referred them to a reputable pharmacy.

The future of personal drug importation

Unfortunately, new legislation may make it impossible for many to afford their medications. The Domain Reform for Unlawful Drug Sellers Act (DRUGS Act) would prevent Americans from personally importing pharmaceutical drugs from licensed international pharmacies.

“U.S. drug prices continue to grow further out of reach for millions of struggling patients,” said Jack Pfeiffer, executive director of CPPI. “This is no time for Congress to rob Americans of their critical daily medications.”

To learn more about how the DRUGS Act may impact you, visit PersonalImportation.org. There, you can also find certified websites for prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

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