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Millions of Americans Now Shops for Meds Abroad Due to High Costs

A new study has shown that more than 2 million Americans now buy their medical prescription from other countries as a result of the rising prices in the United States since the coronavirus began.

According to the analysis gotten from nationwide survey data, it showed that 1.5% of adults got their prescription medicines from outside the United States between 2015 and 2017.

The people found to be more engaged in this were immigrants and people who were older or who had inadequate health insurance coverage and tight budgets. Those who use the internet for health care information were, as well involved as shown by the report published by JAMA Network Open.

The number of Americans looking for cheaper prescription medicines is likely to rise due to the spike in unemployment stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and the loss of work-based health insurance, according to the University of Florida (UF) researchers. It’s already one of the challenges the insurance sectors are facing due to the lockdown.

“With the economic and health consequences of COVID-19 disproportionately impacting minority and low-income populations, more people in those groups may be seeking an alternative way to meet their medication needs,” said lead study author Young-Rock Hong, an assistant professor of health services research, management and policy at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.

Safety is a big concern with international medication purchases, the researchers said in a university news release. One in 10 medications sold in the world are substandard or fake, the World Health Organization estimates.

Study co-author Juan Hincapie-Castillo, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, stressed that “patients might not be getting what they think they are getting.”

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He said this is particularly dangerous to patients for whom even a small deviation in dose can have severe consequences.

Insurers must take note of this development as the resultant effect will be more deaths that will be coronavirus unrelated.

With more Americans likely to buy prescription meds outside the United States, patient education and stringent quality control are crucial, Hong said.

“Patients should be informed of these potential risks they can encounter, and policies that seek to pursue medical prescription importation should reinforce quality assurance and strict monitoring processes to promote safe administration of imported medication in the U.S. market,” Hong said.

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This is just one of the impact of inadequate health insurance coverage in the United States.

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