August 10, 2020 Blogs

I have to play this game.

My name is Maureen and I’m from Shoreview, Minnesota. Since I had a benign brain tumor removed in 2012, I’ve had to take medications to prevent seizures. For years now, I’ve bought my brand name drugs from Canada simply because it’s much more affordable than getting them in the United States.

Due to the different dosages available, I take both phenytoin and its branded version, Dilantin. These medications are so necessary for living a normal life because they allow me to walk and drive without the risk of getting seizures. 

A woman is smiling at the camera. She's wearing glasses and a white shirt with red stripes. Her silver hair is pinned back. Under my Medicare plan, a three-month supply of phenytoin costs me $12 out-of-pocket. However, a three-month supply of Dilantin would cost $194 out-of-pocket until I meet my $435 annual deductible, after which I would continue to pay a percentage of the price. Since I started getting Dilantin from Canada, I’ve paid $92 for more than a three-month supply, though the price recently increased to $121.

I also take Synthroid after having my thyroid removed due to cancer. Synthroid costs $125 for 90 capsules under my Medicare plan, and like Dilantin, I would have to pay a percentage of the price after meeting my deductible. The drug costs just $44 in Canada.

I’m grateful that another country can help me with these medications that I have to take for the rest of my life, but it’s just too bad that I have to play this game. 

Though I have benefited from Canadian drug prices, this might not be a permanent solution. My long-term usage of phenytoin and Dilantin is beginning to affect my liver, so my doctors want me to try a new anticonvulsant, Briviact. Unfortunately, Briviact costs upwards of $1,000 in the United States, and it might not be available through the Canadian website I use, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I recently learned that my Medicare plan will not cover Briviact on a long-term basis.

It’s ridiculous that the United States subjects its own citizens to such high drug prices, and it’s even more infuriating that politicians take money from Big Pharma and have family members that sit on their executive boards. They’ve shown that they simply don’t care.


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.