When Jon Robinson learned that his aunt in Florida had reduced the amount of money she spends on prescription drugs from $900 to $430 per month by buying from a middleman for a Canadian pharmacy, he saw the opportunity for a business.
"I'm entrepreneurial," said Robinson, 50, who opened up Discount RX Mart of Canada at 110-62 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills in April, with the help of his partner, Michael Weissman, 48. "I saw the business operating in Florida, and I saw that they were helping people save thousands of dollars on prescription drugs they could not afford."
Like the company that Robinson's aunt uses, Discount RX Mart of Canada acts as a middleman between a pharmacy in Canada and patients in the United States. People can take advantage of Canada's cheaper prescription drugs without physically taking a trip to Canada by buying through the company.
"We are not a pharmacy. We facilitate the customer," said Robinson. "We take their prescription and health information and forward it to our Canadian pharmacy partner. The information is examined by a physician and pharmacist in Canada, and the prescription drug is shipped directly to the customer's home."
Canada's prescription drugs are generally 30 percent to 60 percent cheaper than in the United States because of the country's socialized health-care system, said Robinson. For example, a bottle of 100 20-milligram pills of Zocor, a common cholesterol medication, costs about $430 at a Forest Hills pharmacy, but only $206 through Discount RX Mart of Canada, which obtains its drugs from Manitoba Pharmacy #32241 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The transaction necessary to obtain drugs from Canada through Discount RX Mart of Canada can be done over the phone, on the Internet or by walking into the company's office, said Robinson.
To use the service customers must fill out and turn in some paperwork on their health background and submit a prescription for the drugs they want from their physician. Drugs are shipped directly to the customer's home. A shipping fee of $13.99 is charged for each shipment, regardless of how many bottles are in the package. Delivery generally takes two to three weeks from the time the order is placed.
Connie Cancilla, 73, of Brooklyn, called the company Saturday and was pleased to find out that a bottle of generic brand 100 20-milligram pills of Provocol, a cholesterol drug, costs $120.96.
"That is fantastic!" she said. "I take a lot of medication for bones, high blood pressure. I'm looking for different ways to save money on prescriptions."
Robinson and Weissman, who used to work together as partners in a garment business, said they decided to open up their new 900-square-foot office in Forest Hills because many elderly people live in the area.
"A lot of seniors do not work on the computer, are not computer literate," said Weissman. "When dealing with seniors, we find that it's very comforting to them to have a physical place they can come to. The local presence puts people at ease."
Many of the company's approximately 650 customers are seniors who are on Medicare, which does not cover prescription drugs, said Robinson
Weissman said their business is the first walk-in center for Canadian drugs in the city to open up, as far as he knows.
"It's modeled after very successful businesses in South Florida," said Weissman. "We saw a problem and saw there was a way to help. A lot of people are very thankful for the service."
Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2003 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.