Contributed by Michelle Tabler
The rising costs of pharmaceuticals has been a hot topic, most recently with the price hike of the allergy medication EpiPen. This trend has caused some people to seek prescription drugs outside of pharmacies by hunting online and across the border. Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest warns medicine seekers to use caution when shopping for prescriptions.
In Alaska, medication prices, including the EpiPen, can be significantly higher than the rest of the country. And, distances from health clinics and the non-existence of a road system for most of the state can make an allergic reaction even more critical.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Demain, Director of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska at Providence Hospital, online isn’t always less expensive and “quality can’t be validated.”
Demain suggested patients use the app, GoodRx. It gives quotes on medications from pharmacies in your area and online.
Here’s what you need to know when looking to bypass a pharmacy:
It might be illegal. A prescription is needed to buy an EpiPen so only retail pharmacies or medical practitioners may be licensed by states to distribute the medication.
Expired prescriptions. Some of the EpiPens being sold online are expired. This is a cause for concern because drugs are typically ineffective after they pass their “sale by date”. Check expiration dates even when buying medications from a pharmacist.
The dosage could be wrong. There’s a reason you need a prescription to buy drugs. Doctors have to determine the dosage, which can vary from patient to patient. There’s risk to the patient if the dosage is too high or too low.
The makers of EpiPen have announced they are coming out with a generic version that will be half the cost of the original.
Anyone that has fallen victim to these or other scams are encouraged to report their experience to Better Business Bureau at 907-562-0704 or at bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.