How to Curb Expenditure on Medications?
In recent years, there has been a trend of increasing costs on medicines all around the world. The main drivers of this process are aging population and increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases leading to growing demand for medicines. The global economic crisis along with the increase in drug spending force people to take certain measures.
According to the forecasts, the growth rates of the U.S and Canadian pharmaceutical markets will increase. A number of factors will influence the level of government spending on medicines in the coming years:
- Appearance of new original drugs on the market. The loss of patent protection by some drugs forces pharmaceutical companies to develop and launch new original drugs. It is predicted that within 5 years, starting in 2018, about 289 innovative medicines will be launched on the market, which is expected to positively affect the growth of expenses on them. Some of the new medications are already available and popularized by the reputable service Mapofmedicine.com in Canada and internationally.
- Launch of new generic drugs on the market. Due to expiration of patent protection for many best-sellers in the next decade, their less expensive generic counterparts will appear on the market. It is expected that within 3 years, around 200 generic drugs will be launched on the market. Increase in the number of generics in the pharmaceutical market will positively affect the budget savings in this area. The FDA has estimated that generic drugs in Canada and the U.S. save up to $40 billion in drug costs per year.
- Aging of the population. Aging population and, as a result, an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases determines growth in demand for medical services and medicines which leads to an increase in the cost of medicines.
- State regulatory policy and cost containment strategy. The global economic downturn and rising health care costs have helped to establish certain regulatory measures in Canada and the U.S., including cuts in government health care spending and regulation of drug prices and compensation through a reimbursement system. In addition, the latest regulatory changes are aimed at improving the system for evaluating the effectiveness of drugs (in the ratio of benefit / risk). Great emphasis is placed on pharmacovigilance – a set of activities related to research and activities aimed at identifying, evaluating and understanding the possible negative consequences of medical use of drugs, preventing their occurrence and protecting patients.
Perfect Tips for Economizing
Probably the best way to reduce drug costs is to not get sick. If we take care of our health in advance, many of us will be able to avoid the future catastrophic expenses for medicines. We know that good nutrition, normal sleep, physical education, sports, healthy lifestyle help to maintain and strengthen health. But not many can force themselves to follow these simple rules.
Well, if you are already sick? In the modern world you can’t do without medications, even if you are absolutely healthy. Each family should always have a set of medications that may be required during first aid with minor ailments and injuries, the so-called first-aid kit. It can include different medicines for headache or some other pain, upset stomach, nausea and cramping, and means for treating wounds and burns. In order not to waste too much when forming a first-aid kit, do not stock up on essential drugs for the future and in large quantities. It is still impossible to foresee all situations that may occur. If necessary, medicines can always be bought in the right quantity.
But if someone in the family suffers from serious chronic diseases. In this case, extra measures are required. In different pharmacies you can buy the same medicine at different prices, since each pharmacy network pursues its own pricing policy (the price of a medicine depends on its purchase price and margin which each pharmacy sets individually).
Of course, finding the most profitable option does not mean running around all pharmacies in the area. It’s easier than ever to do it now. On the Internet, you can find information about any drug, compare prices and make a choice. In extreme cases, you can monitor prices on the phone: by ringing and finding out how much the medicine of interest costs.
Generic or Original: What to Choose?
You need to use discounts and promotions that are held in pharmacies regularly (the price of a medicine can be significantly reduced, but it is important to check its shelf life firsthand). Many online pharmacies offer discounts when paying with bank cards. But there is also another opportunity to significantly reduce the cost of drugs, such as replacement of original drugs with their analogues.
When buying a drug in a pharmacy, a pharmacist usually asks a clarification question whether the one needs the original or its substitute. Many original medicines have cheap analogues, and the difference in price can be simply enormous. Moreover, patients can rest assured that original medicine and its substitute have almost the same therapeutic properties, because they contain the same active substance. If so, why overpay then? Purchase of cheap analogues instead of the original drugs is the opportunity allowing us to save on drugs.
But not everything is so simple in reality. The difference is not only in price. A drug that costs more is the original medicine, and one that is cheaper is its copy (generic) and is produced by other pharmaceutical companies. This is necessary to understand why generics are so cheap and how safe they are to use. Let’s dig into it.
What are generics? It can be said that a generic is a copy of the original medication and its legitimate reproduction. Generic is completely safe, quite similar and close to the original. As we already know, the same active ingredient is used in the production of generics and the original medicinal product for which the agreed and prescribed term of patent protection has expired. But the cost of an analogue is much cheaper. And this is its main advantage over the original.
A manufacturer of the original drug spends huge funds on its creation, research, and market promotion. And in order to recoup these costs, it is given a certain time limited by the period of patent protection. When this period ends, nothing prevents other pharmaceutical companies from synthesizing a similar drug based on the same active substance that was used in the original. And thus, its analogue or generic appears, and a drug becomes more affordable for a consumer.
The price of the original drug may decrease due to the appearance of an analogue, but, as a rule, it remains quite high anyway, since the original drug is already a well-known brand that has established itself well, is familiar to the consumer, and its effectiveness, safety and tolerability by patients have been tested by a large number of clinical trials.
On the contrary, much less time and money is spent on analog production: a ready-made formula is used, expenses for research and drug development are excluded, laboratory and clinical trials are not fully carried out (referring to the fact that active substance used has already been tested in the manufacture of the original). Sometimes in production, cheaper raw materials are used that were purchased in countries where it is difficult to verify its quality.
It would be wrong to talk about the complete identity of an original and a generic. The best copy of the original drug with all the similarities in most cases is unlikely to be better than the original. There are still differences. And these are not only different names and prices. These are features in production technology, a different color, taste, size and form of the drug, different composition of excipients, their quality, ratio and combination.
These seemingly insignificant nuances can affect side or therapeutic effects of the drug. And for this reason, the substitute for the original may not always be suitable for a particular patient, especially if a patient is already taking the drug constantly. Replacing an original with its counterpart is not always a good idea. And it is better not to do this yourself without preliminary consulting a doctor.
What about Alternative Treatment?
Folk methods of treatment are worldly wisdom accumulated over centuries, and, sometimes, they turn out to be more useful and effective than pharmacy medicines that also exclude side-effects. Long before the onset of autumn when everyone around sneezes and coughs, you can take care not to get sick with others and strengthen your immunity. For this, the best possible way is to use a vitamin mixture prepared according to an old recipe. It is prepared from dried fruits (raisins, prunes, dried apricots), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts), lemon and honey. It is possible to talk about the healing properties of these components for a very long time. Honey alone is worth it. No wonder it is considered a remedy for a thousand diseases.
The results of studies of these methods, conducted by scientists around the world, prove that using home remedies and some food correctly, it is possible, if not to cure serious diseases, but to significantly ease their course.
The Conclusion Is Obvious
Please, note: replacing expensive original drugs with their cheap analogues in order to save is not always advisable. It can even be harmful and hazardous to health. Do not experiment if you have a chronic illness. The benefits obtained by buying a cheap analogue can lead to new and more serious expenses.
Another thing is if no one in your family suffers from serious illnesses, and you just want to form a home medicine cabinet. Then it is not necessary to spend money on expensive originals. You can limit yourself to generics.
Being healthy is correct and beneficial. To be sick today is expensive. Any visit to a pharmacy will cost a bomb. This is particularly acute for people with chronic ailments who have to regularly spend money on drugs. But you can save on them. We have prepared 8 simple tips that will reduce the cost of medicines.
Follow Eight Simple Tips and Take Care
- Do not buy much in advance
Not everyone knows that it is not necessary to buy a whole package of medicine. Sometimes, to drink a course prescribed by a doctor, one or two blisters of tablets or several ampoules are enough. So, you will not pay for extra medicines which then may not prove to be useful.
- Use cheap analogues of expensive drugs
Doctors often prescribe expensive advertised drugs. Sometimes they have no analogues and are to be bought as prescribed. But it often happens that a well-known foreign drug has a cheaper analogue. Such drugs are called generics. Ask a doctor to list the analogues of the prescribed medicine, if any, and coordinate their intake with him.
- Compare Prices
There are many pharmacies today and their prices are different. Do not buy the entire list of prescribed drugs in the nearest store. It is more convenient, of course, to study the market via the Internet. The site-aggregators are quite popular for the possibility to not only compare the prices of drugs in different pharmacies, but also pick up analogues for them and find instructions for each. After spending 30-60 minutes to study the market, you can experience a slight shock when you see how much the prices for the same medicine differ in different pharmacies. Price spread can reach 10-50%.
- Use cashback cards
Pay for drugs with cash back credit cards and you can return part of cost. It is beneficial for banks when you use their cards to pay. They are paid a commission for this, part of which they are ready to share with customers in the form of cashback.
- Get tax rebate
Treatment is the cost of a tax credit. True, this applies only to officially employed citizens. If in the last reporting year, you incurred expenses for treatment (yours or your relatives), you can apply to the fiscal authorities and you will be refunded part of the taxes paid on your salary.
- Keep track of your first-aid kit
Review your home medicine cabinet. Throw away the expired drugs and create a list with all the remaining ones. Preferably indicating the shelf life of the drugs. Always take him with you to see a doctor. It is possible that you may have drugs that are needed for a particular case or their analogues.
- Use pharmacy loyalty cards
If you like some kind of network and you often buy medicines there, do not neglect offers to apply for a loyal customer card. So, you get a discount or you can pay part of the purchases with bonuses.
- Get vaccinated
Vaccinations are a preventative measure. They make your body more resistant to disease. Of course, it is impossible to get vaccinated against all diseases. But, for example, a flu shot before the start of the cold season is a logical decision.