A growing number of Americans are traveling to India to buy prescription drugs at huge discounts.
Dozens of medicines that are life saving are sold much less expensive in India, which has attracted a number of sick foreigners who have not had access to them or cannot afford to buy them in their homeland.
It is not easy however. Foreigners have to navigate the healthcare system of India, loads of paperwork and at times a language barrier.
However, for many, the only option available to them is a trip to India. One such foreigner is from Alaska. The patient has lived with Hepatitis C the past 40 years. However, last year the disease began to attack his liver and cirrhosis was close to setting in.
The man was recommended by his doctors for a treatment that included the medication sofosbuvir. However, the insurance claim for the drug was denied by Medicare and he could not afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the drug costs.
The man then went to the Internet to contact Buyers Club a site based in India that exploits the loopholes in international drug regulation and patent law so it can supply less expensive medicine to those in need.
Worldwide over 130 million people live with Hepatitis C. If not treated the disease could become deadly.
However, sofosbuvir that Gilead released in 2013 is effectively a cure, but it is not cheap. The treatment cost $84,000 for a course of 12 weeks.
The drug is often prescribed by doctors in the United States under the brand names Harvoni and Sovaldi in combination with others as well.
That further elevates the cost and due to that, insurers and healthcare providers from the government often will only pay for it for their patients that are the sickest.
However, in India, 12 weeks of the generic version of the drug will cost just $500.
The network of foreigner buyers of drugs in India has steadily grown since last year after an Australian traveled to India to buy drugs for Hepatitis C and chronicled his trip online.
One such traveler is upset that millions of people have the disease around the world and are dying due to a really inexpensive drug being sold at incredibly high prices.
The man who operates the buyers club for drugs in India said that over 100 emails come in every day from people looking for advice with over 50% from the U.S. alone.
Some travel to purchase the drugs in India, while others ask for the treatment to be mailed to them.
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