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Old 05.06.2012, 20:50
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Pharmaceuticals availability in CH vs. US

Hi
As some of you may have read, there are shortages of some pharmaceuticals in the US. A concrete story with a happy ending follows: a US family member has been taking a Sandoz/ Novartis maintenance drug for 15+ years. In April he determined, after calling 12 pharmacies, one of which also contacted Sandoz/ Novartis US, that the drug was not currently available in the US due to production issues. I then contacted a local pharmacy in CH which could obtain it within a day from their Grossist. The family member's US doctor subsequently faxed a prescription to the CH pharmacy, I paid for it and sent it via the CH Post ("A") to the US family member, including the prescription and receipt in the box, and also completed a short CH customs declaration listing the contents as "Medicine" and noting the price. The package arrived at the US family member's address nine days later.

Note that this drug was NOT a controlled-substance and also, surprisingly, it was 2/3 cheaper in CH than in the US (which has nothing to do with why it was obtained here and may be an exception). If this Novartis pharmaceutical is again not available in the US in three months when the current supply runs out, we will likely perform this drill again.

It appears that the US diaspora can be useful to the home country at times.
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Old 05.06.2012, 20:55
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Re: Pharmaceuticals availability in CH vs. US

Britain is also experiencing medical drug shortages, these shortages we were told were because middlemen were selling the drugs to richer countries for more profit!

Something smells fishy here! Does it seem to you that the industry is trying to increase world prices on the strength of rumours?
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Old 05.06.2012, 23:07
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Re: Pharmaceuticals availability in CH vs. US

Shortages in Britain are not fishy at all. The practice is called parallel imports. It is legal in Europe to resell medicines bought in one EU country in another. Price levels vary widely between EU countries. There are now companies specializing in buying medicines in the UK or Greece and reselling in Germany for a hefty profit. There was a documentary on TV in the UK last year that explained the issue.
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Old 05.06.2012, 23:45
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Re: Pharmaceuticals availability in CH vs. US

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Shortages in Britain are not fishy at all. The practice is called parallel imports. It is legal in Europe to resell medicines bought in one EU country in another. Price levels vary widely between EU countries. There are now companies specializing in buying medicines in the UK or Greece and reselling in Germany for a hefty profit. There was a documentary on TV in the UK last year that explained the issue.
OK a perscription 76 chf CH, 55 Euro Germany, 39 Euro France, 39 Boots UK, 24 Superdrug UK who do private perscriptions at cost:
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Old 06.06.2012, 10:11
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Re: Pharmaceuticals availability in CH vs. US

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Britain is also experiencing medical drug shortages, these shortages we were told were because middlemen were selling the drugs to richer countries for more profit!

Something smells fishy here! Does it seem to you that the industry is trying to increase world prices on the strength of rumours?
The shortage of this specific drug was caused by a change in the production location which has not gone well, according to company and other reports on the internet. Having said that, it seems that drug shortages are often localized to some countries, as was the case here.

To locate a drug in short-supply the following logic could be used:
1) It should be available in countries where the prices are highest, since pharma companies and distributors are profit-seeking.
2) It should be available in the country where the company is based and/ or where it is produced to avoid falling out of favor with the national health authorities in the home country/ in the production country.

In our case, 2) seemed to apply since Novartis is based in CH.

Another point: it has been speculated by some that the shortage of this specific drug was contrived by Novartis to force people to "upgrade" to its newer product line which is more expensive. In the case of this family member, he tried the newer product but it was not effective and so returned to the older drug. The fact that the newer product was more expensive and the older product less expensive did not play a role in his and his doctor's decision process.
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