Canadian Pharmacies in Florida are Posing Some Serious Problems

Posted by: DFX on Jul 22, 2016

pills-1190217_640Buying prescription drugs from a licensed pharmacist is important, yet thousands of people in Florida turn to Canadian pharmacies that are supposedly being run in Florida. It’s an understandable situation, what with the incredibly high price of some medications, even with insurance, but it leads to all sorts of potential issues. The Miami Herald recently posted an article titled Saving money on imported medicines in Florida with ‘storefront pharmacies’.

Phil Galewitz writes, “A hardy market for imported low-cost prescription drugs has taken root in Florida, nourished by older Americans and tolerant regulators. About 15 storefront businesses across Florida claim to help thousands of customers each year place online orders from pharmacies in Canada and overseas for medicines at prices up to 70 percent off what people pay in the U.S. The reason is other countries regulate consumer drug prices — the U.S. does not — and some cheaper generic medicines are sold there before the U.S. market gets them.

Federal authorities say the practice is illegal and dangerous because the U.S. has not reviewed the safety of some drugs approved for sale in foreign countries or they could be counterfeit. But since the first storefront opened in 2002 in Delray Beach, the government has never charged shops or their customers, according to operators and researchers who follow the business.

The shops seemed to face a grim future 10 years ago when Medicare began covering prescription drugs, sparking expectations that seniors would no longer struggle to afford medications. “We thought that would be the end of the business,” said Janelle Quinn, owner of Discount Med Company in St. Petersburg. The trade’s surprising survival spotlights both seniors’ continuing difficulties with medication expenses, and how far some people will go to save money.

Florida’s storefronts are found in retirement havens, including areas of Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, Melbourne and Sunrise in Broward County. Similar operations exist in a few other states, but the Sunshine State is thought to have the most.

Each one serves several hundred customers a year, about 80 percent of whom are over 65, according to co-owner Bill Hepscher. Most of them have Medicare coverage for prescription drugs, but the portion they still must pay, including copays and deductibles, is often a burden, Hepscher said. In addition to absorbing copays and deductibles, beneficiaries’ expenses also rise if they hit the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, exposing them to higher out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs until those reach $4,850 annually.

The average retail price for 397 widely used drugs increased 81 percent from 2006 through 2013, compared with an 18 percent increase in inflation in the same period, according to AARP.”

At the Law Offices of Gilbert & Smallman, we’re personal injury attorneys who’ve worked with clients on a number of pharmacy malpractice cases in Florida. Using an illegal pharmacy can certainly decrease a person’s chance of having a valid case. No matter what the situation, if you believe you’ve been the victim of pharmacy malpractice, your best bet is to call us immediately for your consultation.