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Retirees making ‘drug runs’ for BC’s cheaper medicines

By Marsha King
Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Last month, retirees Marlyn and Daniel Peck from Tacoma made their first “drug run” to British Columbia.

The 173-mile trip ended at a walk-in medical clinic and then a pharmacy, both in a South Surrey shopping mall about 10 minutes from the US border.

They bought three months’ worth of prescription drugs that Marilyn needs for high blood pressure, stomach problems and her sinuses. Thanks to lower prices and a favorable exchange rate, the bill was about $600 less than in the United States.

“The Majority are elderly on Medicare. And most of them were on at least five to 10 drugs for chronic illnesses such as heart disease or high blood pressure,” says Dr. Paul Assad, with the Peninsula Medical and Travel Clinic in South Surrey, near White Rock, BC It was a doctor at his clinic who helped the Pecks.

Given the gas, time and doctor’s fee involved, a trip across the US – Canada border pays off best for patients taking five or six drugs for chronic illnesses.

Gretchen and Chuck Hurter, who live in the upscale neighborhood of Newport Shores in south Bellevue, think it makes good financial sense. Their drug bill is $5,000 a year.

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