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Generic Drug Questions: When Will Generic Singulair Be Available in the U.S.?

We get a a lot of questions about  Merck’s blockbuster asthma drug Singulair. We constantly get questions from asthma-sufferers and allergy patients about “When will Singulair go generic?”, “Why can’t I buy generic Singulair yet?” and “Where can I find affordable, generic Singulair? Well, unfortunately for asthma patients and allergy-suffers, the Singulair patent does not expire until next year, which means we won’t have a generic counterpart for Singulair in the U.S. until at least 2012.

Merck is due to lose its patent protection on Singulair in August of 2012, which is the earliest that a generic version of Singulair will be available. Brand-name Singulair generally retails for almost $150 for a 30 day supply, so it looks like Singulair is going to be a big drain on the budget of many American asthma and allergy patients for a while longer, unfortunately.

However, if you do not live in the U.S. or you are willing to go outside the U.S., generic versions of Singulair are available in other parts of the world i.e. Mexico, Europe, etc. and it’s often cheaper than what is available here. If you’re thinking of buying generic Singulair from a foreign country, please remember a few things, though:

Can I Legally Bring Prescription Drugs from a Foreign Country into the U.S.?

No, sort of. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone to except a drug manufacturer to bring in prescription drugs from a foreign country, so no, technically it is illegal for you to buy your prescription drugs from a foreign country and bring them into the United States or have them shipped to you here. This includes drugs which are originally manufactured in the U.S. and exported to a foreign country which you may want to bring back to the U.S.

That being said, the FDA generally does not take action against individuals bringing in small amounts of prescription drugs (usually a 90-day supply) for their own personal use. Of course, enforcement is up to FDA discretion, but their guidelines prioritize going after drug rings rather than your average senior citizen ordering their monthly prescriptions from Canada.

Are the Drugs I buy in a Foreign Country Safe?

Well, maybe. It is hard to say whether the prescription drugs that you purchase will be up to standards comparable to those of the FDA, but if you are actually going across the border to a pharmacy in a foreign country, you should be able to do some research and ask the local pharmacist questions about the prescription drugs you are buying.

However, ordering prescription drugs online opens up a whole gaggle of other risks. First of all, anyone can set up a “pharmacy” online, and it can be extremely difficult to verify that you are actually receiving your prescription drugs from a legitimate source. Some online pharmacies have been known to ship substandard drugs, drugs that are past their expiration date, drugs that are too strong/weak, counterfeit drugs or drugs that have been sourced through countries without adequate safety standards.

In addition, prescription drug trade names are not standard across countries so there is a risk that by ordering Flomax (which in the U.S. is a medication for an enlarged prostate) you will receive the drug known as Flomax in Italy (which is an anti-inflammatory drug).

If you are interested in purchasing your prescription drugs through a foreign country, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

• Avoid ordering drugs from an unlicensed pharmacy.
• Avoid ordering drugs which from a pharmacy that does not require a prescription.
• Do not import drug that are not approved by the U.S. FDA. That’s still illegal!
• Make sure that the pharmacy that you are ordering from is in a country with adequate safety standards. (Canada is a good bet.)
• Avoid online pharmacies that do not offer any company information, such as an address and telephone number where they can be reached.
• Insist on access to a licensed pharmacist in case you have any questions about your drugs.
• Ask that your order be shipped with the original manufacturer packaging; if that packaging is broken, don’t take it!
• Read and understand any website privacy and security policies. Don’t risk losing control of your credit card, health and other personal information.

Do you use Singulair for your asthma or allergies? Tell us about it!

Join the forum discussion on this post

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22 comments to Generic Drug Questions: When Will Generic Singulair Be Available in the U.S.?

  • Every time I need to get my 90 day supply of Singular refilled, it has gone up approx $200. The last time the cost was over $700. I don’t have to pay all of that amount, but of course when the retail goes up, my portion goes up too and I don’t know if I can continue to afford it. Senior citizens on fixed incomes are in a terrible spot. I will say Singulair does help immensely.

  • Thanks for your comment, Jeanne. We haven’t updated this recently, but a few months ago we put together a resource on Singulair: http://myhealthcafe.com/are-there-any-alternatives-for-cheaper-more-affordable-singulair. Have you taken a look?

  • Susan

    Without singulair unfortunately I get very sick.I tried it two times.

  • Thanks for your comment, Susan. Have you tried any of the suggestions in our blog on Singulair: http://myhealthcafe.com/are-there-any-alternatives-for-cheaper-more-affordable-singulair?

  • Heather

    If I go just one day without my singulair I cant breath normally. As far as I am concerned it is a miracle drug and sadly Id be willing to pay any price to get it however a generic would be a godsend!

  • Thanks for your comment, Heather. We know we couldn’t do without our essential drugs either!

  • Ellen

    Is hair loss a side effect of using singulair? I am taking it for Asthma.

  • Ilawyn Beckner

    Singulair keeps me feeling stable and breathing. I’ve went off only once and it was not a good experience. I’ll cut back on other things in order to have the funds to continue to take it each day. Thanks for your information.

  • Thanks for your comment, Ilawyn. We know how vital Singulair has become to so many people. We’ll be keeping up with the news on generic Singulair, so let us know if have any questions!

  • Thanks for your comment, Ellen. We haven’t heard about hair loss as a Singulair side effect. Have you talked to your doctor about it?

  • RedSoxChip

    The same class of drug as singulair is available as a generic. It is called accolate. The only difference is that it is taken twice a day rather than once a day and is much cheaper. Your doctor won’t get lunches and speaker fees from accolate reps since it is generic, so they will not offer it to you unless you ask. Tell your doctor how expensive it is and ask them to try the accolate generic. Hope this helps. Otherwise, you will have to wait until August – October of this year before Singulair goes generic.

  • Thanks for your comment, Chip! Yes, Accolate is an alternative to Singulair which people should definitely ask about if Singulair is expensive for them!

  • Carol

    I am so lucky I have been able to work up to using my Singulair every three days and have had no additional problems breathing. I asked my pharmacist about going to very four days, but he said it wouldn’t be a good idea. If I took it as prescribed, I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

  • Thanks for your comment, Carol. Was your doctor or pharmacist the one who suggested the idea of going every three days?

  • Amanda

    All of this information is very helpful. I have 2 daughters who have to take singulair. We have insurance but the copay is still high. I am glad to hear that sometime this year there will be a generic for singulair.

  • Thanks for your comment, Amanda. A lot of us are waiting for generic Singulair to finally hit the market, so you can be sure that we’ll be keeping everyone updated! Come back soon!

  • Mary

    OH PLEASE MAKE THIS GENERIC ! I have severe asthma and just went to the pharmacy to pick up my medication and had to take just 2 wk supply due to the cost. I will die without it!!!! Unemployed and getting impatient

  • Mary, have you tried the contacting the Singulair Patient Assistance Program? They may be able to help you out with getting your Singulair. You should also try our forum to see if anyone has any other suggestions.

  • John in Michigan

    It is a shame that so many people who can not afford singulair and the drug companys make billions of dollars a year and pay their executives 60 million yearly. Really greddy people getting filthy rich off of less fortunate people

  • Thanks for your comment, John. It is crazy how much pharmaceutical execs make!

  • LA

    Hello: Just FYI, the generic version of Singulair (montelukast) was approved by the FDA last week and should be available at your pharmacy shortly, please check with your pharmacist.

  • I used to be suggested this blog through my cousin. I am no longer positive whether or not this post is written via him as nobody else recognize such distinct about my problem. You are wonderful! Thanks!

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