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Canadian Online Drug Sales To U.S. Customers Increase

Canadian online pharmacies are seeing an increase in orders as American seniors seek to bolster their new Medicare benefits.

Hard hit initially by the new U.S. Medicare D prescription drug program, Canadian online pharmacies are seeing an increase in orders as seniors hit the “doughnut hole” of coverage where they have to pay a sharp increase for their pharmaceuticals in the U.S.

In an interview Tuesday, Ramy Attala, spokesman for ADV-Care Pharmacy in Ontario, said sales to U.S. customers are beginning to climb as more American seniors better understand the complicated Medicare D regulations, but particularly as they hit the so-called doughnut hole usually between $2,250 and $5,100 where many aren’t covered by the U.S. government plan.

“At first our sales went down 30 to 40 percent,” said Attala. “But now they are starting to rebound. They are up about 5 percent.” He expects U.S. sales to continue to gain and says his opinion is buttressed by his sales trips to Florida where he explains the complexities to U.S. seniors of buying prescription drugs from online Canadian pharmacies.

“It’s all a big insurance game,” he said, adding that American seniors are gradually beginning to pick their way through the maze of regulations and insurance plans. “It’s not a simple task to find good coverage. I ask them: ‘Why pay full price?’ Patients have the option of doing both Medicare D and” using Canadian online pharmacies.

Attalla said savings on some pharmaceuticals can range as high as 40 to even 70 percent. He expects sales to rise sharply as more U.S. seniors reach the doughnut hole. “A lot of people will feel they have been deceived,” he said, “when they factor in co-payments and premiums.”

The U.S. Medicare D plan has a May 15 enrollment deadline, but Attalla said millions of U.S. seniors are expected to hit the doughnut home beginning in June, July and August. ADV-Care Pharmacy, he says, promotes a combined solution of “Canada + Medicare”, particularly for catastrophic coverage.

Generally, Canadian online pharmacies are not cheaper than Medicare D before the doughnut hole is reached and generic drugs can be cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada.

David MacKay, former executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, recently told Canada’s National Post that the U.S. plan initially caused Canadian online sales to drop. Most of the online druggists had to layoff employees. MacKay, now a consultant for online pharmacies, noted that the decline in the Canadian dollars vis–vis the U.S. dollar also caused a drop in sales.

Attalla said he expects sales to continue rising as Canadian online pharmacies step up their education efforts for seniors. He said: “We’re telling them, ‘You have options.’”

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