Tuesday, December 30, 2003

From USA Today:
States continue push for Canadian drugs
States leading the drive for legal purchases of lower-cost medicines from Canada are not backing down despite threats by federal regulators. One state health official accuses the Bush administration of raising "bogus" safety concerns to protect drugmakers' profits.

More than a dozen states are moving ahead with various programs. Some would direct their residents to approved drug sources in Canada. Some states intend to buy the drugs for state workers and retirees or help pharmacies purchase them.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
Discount Drugs president satisfied company compliant with U.S. rules
The president of Discount Drugs of Canada said yesterday that the company's designation as an online information provider complies with the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and is legal.

"We are not a pharmacy, and we have no intention of acting in that way," said Lonnie Curtis, who spoke from an Ohio office during a telephone interview. "We are a viable business because of what we do and how we do it. We don't do things that require regulation. We are an Internet information service provider, and we work under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. We don't do anything more, and we don't do anything less."
From the St. Petersburg (Fla) Times:
Policy a prescription for defiance
The Bush administration is struggling in its campaign to stop a growing number of cities and states that are considering buying low-price, American-made prescription drugs from Canada.

In recent weeks, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has taken a series of steps aimed at discouraging state and local governments from "reimporting" medicines from Canada for their employees and retirees. Those efforts include:

From WSFA (Alabama):
Montgomery Allows City Employees to Purchase Drugs From Canada
An article in USA Today is putting the City of Montgomery back in the national spotlight- not for civil rights or religion, but because of prescription drugs. The city is buying prescription drugs from Canada for its employees- and it's been doing so for almost a year- the first city program of its kind in the entire nation.

From the Tennessean:
Canadian drugs being urged for TennCare
A coalition of statewide organizations representing the poor, people with disabilities and the elderly is urging Gov. Phil Bredesen to look into buying drugs from Canada as a means of saving the TennCare health-care program.

In a letter to Bredesen, the groups said a series of changes in the program that began four years ago during the administration of Gov. Don Sundquist — what the groups called ''management missteps'' — have had drastic financial results. The letter also said that TennCare should pursue innovative ways to buy prescription medications, perhaps from abroad or in collaboration with other states.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Did you take your pills?
The failure of patients to take their medicines - because of forgetfulness or cost or other reasons - is widespread and is undermining many medical advances.

Patients follow directions only about half the time. Some forget. Others fear side effects, deny they need the medicine, are unsure of the regimen, can't afford them, or have trouble getting to the pharmacy.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
Local man moves forward with plan for drug service
Kurt Bricault, whose plans to open a Discount Drugs of Canada store at 85 Main St. have generated intense debate in the city, is setting up his business as a corporation and has established a board of directors.

Bricault said earlier this week that he realized soon after the Planning Board postponed a decision about approving a permit for his business that the demand for such a service is stronger than he had first thought.

From the Bloomington (Ill) Pentagraph:
Governor's persistence is prescription for success (editorial)
Gov. Rod Blagojevich may be striking out again in his battle to buy prescription drugs at a cheaper price for the state's 230,000 employees and retirees.

But he deserves credit for keeping the controversial topic alive. Some day, Congress may begin talking about what can be done to lower or keep prescription drug prices down instead of talking about what can't be done.

Friday, December 26, 2003

From the Chicago Daily Herald:
Win doesn't mute drug industry's woes
Pharmaceutical company executives breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Medicare reform bill excluded two ideas they abhorred: imports of low-priced drugs and government price controls.

Industry lobbyists had swarmed the capital before the bill's late-year approval, pressing aggressively against both measures. They emerged victorious - but it doesn't mean they can relax. The issue of prescription drug costs will rage into 2004.

No sooner did the reform pass than the movement for legalizing imports from Canada gained some key new allies, including the state of New Hampshire and the city of Boston, which have plans to bring in drugs for public employees.

From the Detroit News:
More opt for Canadian drugs
For a year, the city of Montgomery, Ala., has been quietly saving money on its employees’ health insurance costs — with a little help from Canada.

Although New Hampshire, Boston and Springfield, Mass., have grabbed headlines over programs aimed at helping residents buy drugs from Canada, Montgomery beat them all.

“Quite honestly, we’ve not sought attention on this,” said Jeff Downes, executive assistant to the mayor.

The program — a voluntary part of the city’s health benefit program for city employees and retirees who wish to get their drugs from a Canadian pharmacy — began last December and will save the city $400,000 to $500,000 in its first year, Downes said.

From the Fairmont (Minn) Sentinel:
FDA: It would be too difficult, costly to legalize
In the international mail facility at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, packages of confiscated prescription drugs are stacked floor-to-ceiling.

The thousands of such illegal mail-order drugs stopped at America's entry points, however, are but a small fraction of the multimillion-dollar business that federal regulators are struggling to control.

As millions of Americans turn to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs, the Food and Drug Administration's top pharmacist said Tuesday that it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to set up a legal, safe program to import the medicines.

And despite growing pressure from Congress, he insisted the FDA would never rely on Canada's safety assurances for the drugs shipped out of that country, many of them made in the United States.

From the Salem (NH) Observer:
The cost of good health
The rising cost of prescription drugs has prompted several states to look into ways to reduce drug price tags for their employees, lower-income residents and senior citizens. Recently New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson announced he would create an online portal for the state’s residents to access cheaper Canadian drugs through the Web.

However, federal and state pharmaceutical authorities are questioning both the legality and safety of importing drugs from outside the United States.

For seniors, the question is less one of legality and safety than dollars and cents.

“The bottom line to them is every dollar that goes to prescriptions is one that they don’t have,” said Patti Drelick, Ingram Senior Center executive director.

Reputable pharmacies say they use the following safety and service standards:

• Display the pharmacy's license number and name of the authority that granted it. Canadian pharmacies are licensed and regulated by the College of Pharmacy in each province. Consumers can call them to verify pharmacies' status.

• Require patients to provide a doctor's prescription, which will be reviewed by a Canadian doctor as required by Canadian law. (Sites that say prescriptions are not needed are risky.)

• Require patients to submit details of their medical history.

• Provide the pharmacy's mailing address and a telephone number that patients can call to speak with a pharmacist or ask questions about the service. (Sites that allow only e-mail contact are suspect.)

• Explain differences between American and Canadian drugs and labels and why some medications are not sold.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
State plans Web link to Canada pharmacies
Defying the federal government, Gov. Jim Doyle announced Tuesday that he will create a state Web site to help people in Wisconsin buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

The move comes despite a threat from the Bush administration that the federal government could sue states and cities that take such actions.

"The federal government is doing everything to stop people from getting affordable drugs," Doyle said Tuesday.

He said the drug companies "are getting their way" in Washington, D.C., on the issue.

Doyle said the Web site would help direct people to "reputable" online pharmacies in Canada that follow standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

From the Boston Channel:
Canadian Drug Programs Planned Despite FDA Warnings
Massachusetts leaders are not taking President George W. Bush's threats of legal action seriously for buying prescription drugs from Canada.

NewsCenter 5's Janet Wu reported that Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly predicted the White House will "huff and puff, " but it will be all wind and no action.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he's ready to import prescription drugs beginning July 1 and the latest threats from Washington won't stop him. "They can't send us all to jail, that's for sure. There are two Republican governors, the mayor of Boston. The problem is why doesn't the FDA work with Health Canada?" Menino said.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

From the Baltimore Sun:
Canada's Internet pharmacies thriving on business from U.S.
But tens of thousands of American seniors have found the company, sometimes with help from their Web-savvy grandchildren and children. Every day, they send about 1,000 prescriptions by fax and phone to this storefront, which - along with more than 175 other Internet pharmacies in Canada - is booming beyond their owners' wildest expectations.

Enticed by bargain prices for prescription drugs across the border, the budget-conscious seniors are defying a U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on importing prescription drugs. They are expected to spend about $900 million this year on drugs from Canada.

The grass-roots rebellion has spread to statehouses and city halls, which face their own cash crunch meeting double-digit increases in prescription drug costs as tax revenues plunge.
From the Twin Cities (Minn) Pioneer Press:
MADISON, WIS.: Imported-drugs plan hits obstacle
A Canadian distributor cannot cover Wisconsin's prescription drug needs for various programs because of limited supplies, further hampering efforts to import cheaper drugs to save taxpayers millions, a governor's spokesman said Friday.

The state already faced signi-ficant hurdles because federal law bans importing prescription drugs from Canada. But Gov. Jim Doyle announced two months ago he was exploring the possibility anyway.

From the Boston Globe:
Counterfeit Drugs a Smokescreen -Officials
New attempts by major drugmakers to block distribution of counterfeit medicines are actually ploys to prevent reimportation of cheaper medicines into the United States, state and city officials told Reuters on Friday.

Pfizer Inc. on Friday said it will require hospitals, pharmacies and distributors to buy its prescription drugs only from wholesalers authorized by the company, following a similar move last week by Johnson & Johnson .

From the Denver Post:
Deadly season sends price of flu vaccine soaring
Flu vaccine is becoming a hot commodity, with the tiny vials selling for up to $300, 2 times the normal price, in some parts of the country.

At the beginning of the season, manufacturers on average charged $85 for a vaccine containing 10 doses.

Things aren't quite so bad in Colorado. State health officials recently paid $165 a vial, nearly double the early-season $85.

Friday, December 19, 2003

From the Washington Post:
Kennedy Endorses Drug Importation
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) gave a limited endorsement yesterday to city and state governments that want to buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada, saying he would support the Boston Tea Party-style rebellions despite warnings about safety risks.

Kennedy's shift came at a critical time for leaders from Boston, New Hampshire and Minnesota who say they are pressing ahead with their arguably illegal importation programs.

From the Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune:
Menino says Canada drug purchase plan will move ahead
Boston will proceed with plans to let city employees and retirees purchase prescription drugs from Canada despite a federal prohibition on importing them, Mayor Thomas Menino said Thursday after meeting with Food and Drug Administration officials.

FDA Associate Commissioner William Hubbard and other agency officials urged Menino to drop the cost-saving plan during a one-hour meeting at the agency's headquarters.

But Menino said he intends to press ahead with a pilot program by July 1, even though it's illegal. But he said he will meet with FDA officials in Boston in two months to continue discussions.
From Reuters:
Boston Mayor Vows to Move Ahead on Drug Imports
The city of Boston will start importing cheaper prescription medicines from Canada on July 1, 2004, even if U.S. regulators refuse to approve the plan, the city's mayor vowed on Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration repeatedly has warned that importing medicines from other countries is illegal and unsafe.

After meeting with FDA officials, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he was not persuaded to abandon the plan. He said he hoped to convince the FDA to work with him on a program the agency could endorse, but would proceed regardless.

From the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman:
Ulster mulls medicine plan
Ulster County is looking into developing program to provide discounted prescription drugs to county residents that would include, among other options, buying less expensive drugs from Canada.

Lawmakers unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday that asks the Public Health Committee to research, develop, and implement a discount drug program for Ulster County residents.

From the Macomb (IL) Eagle:
Are those drugs really safe?
In looking for the answer to the high costs of pharmaceuticals in the United States, Gov. Rod Blagojevich turned to the cheaper prices of Canadian drugs. However, this move could have succeeded primarily in stirring up even more questions about the Illinois governor’s efforts to find a cheap drug alternative for his people. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to know how Blagojevich’s research team can guarantee safety when the FDA themselves can’t even do that. How can counterfeiting be curbed in other countries when the U.S. has difficulty in its own? And finally there’s the Internet, which is fast becoming a go-to place for Canadian drugs. That last one in particular might not be such a good idea for consumers to utilize.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
Discount Drugs proprietor takes issue with Bosley's description of business
The controversy over accessibility to Canadian prescription drugs has inspired fresh debate following public comments by state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams.

And the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce has posted a survey question about the issue on its Internet Web site.

Bosley has drawn criticism from a city man hoping to open a Discount Drugs of Canada store at a building owned by David Carver at 85 Main St. The state lawmaker's recorded comments were broadcast earlier this week on radio stations WNAW and WMNB.

From the Boston Globe:
Canadian pharmacy group warns of supply problems
The trade group representing Canada's largest Internet pharmacies told American cities and states last night to stop planning large-scale prescription drug purchasing plans for employees, saying tens of thousands of new customers would create widespread supply problems for consumers on both sides of the border.

The announcement came just a week after Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced that he will begin importing drugs from Canada for city workers in a pilot program. Menino planned to be in Washington, D.C., today to press Food and Drug Administration officials to authorize his plan.

From Tech Central Station:
Foreign Drugs Will Bring Liability Headaches for States
Governors across the country in a desperate bid to balance their budgets are getting seduced by one, very bad idea: Buying U.S.-made drugs from abroad where they are often cheaper -- thanks to foreign government price controls. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently proclaimed that he could save his state a whopping $91 million every year by establishing a drug pipeline to Canada. Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm has likewise suggested that she could save her state Medicaid program potentially tens of millions of dollars by buying drugs north of the border.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

From USA Today:
Who gets to prescribe?
A group of psychologists seeking the legal right to prescribe drugs has announced it is bypassing U.S. doctors and routing prescriptions through Canadian doctors and pharmacies.

The National Society of Clinical Psychopharmacologists (NSCP) says its roughly 1,000 members, who hold doctorates in psychology and have 300 hours or more of post-doctoral pharmacology training, will have Canadian doctors review cases and countersign prescriptions for mental health drugs. They'll work with a Canadian supplier that will mail drugs to U.S. patients at cut-rate costs.

Group is the latest to try to obtain cheaper drugs from Canada
The move by a group of psychologists to prescribe drugs through Canadian doctors represents another skirmish in the battle to get cheaper drugs.

Federal law prevents importing prescription drugs meant for sale outside the USA. But because other countries set price controls, cost-conscious U.S. residents have traveled to Canada or Mexico for years and brought back their own supplies. The practice is technically illegal, but the Food and Drug Administration mainly has looked the other way and allowed residents to bring small quantities of drugs over the border.

The FDA consistently has said it would not prosecute Grandma or Grandpa for buying their drugs in Canada.

In recent months, however, the FDA has moved to close down commercial businesses that assist residents in purchasing drugs from Canada, winning a court case in November against Oklahoma-based Rx Depot.
From Bloomberg.com:
Canada Drug Group Won't Sell to U.S. State Employees
A group of Canadian Internet pharmacies said they won't enter agreements to supply low-cost drugs in bulk to U.S. state and municipal workers because of the strain it would put on Canada's health system.

The Canadian International Pharmacy Association, which represents 25 Internet drug sellers, has pledged not to supply drugs for proposed employee programs in Iowa, Illinois and other states and cities, said Executive Director David MacKay.

From the San Fransisco Examiner:
Supe wants city in drug biz
Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval wants San Francisco to join the tide of local governments helping their senior citizens import Canadian drugs, which, due to government price controls, are up to 80 percent cheaper than prescription drugs sold in the United States.

"If we can sell marijuana to sick people, we can surely sell prescription drugs to sick people," Sandoval said.

He envisions The City working with nonprofits to set up cyber cafés with a simple Web site where seniors can connect with Canadian pharmacies to fill their prescriptions.

From KARE-TV (MN):
Gutknecht Criticizes Coleman's Drug Imports Probe
Rep. Gil Gutknecht is criticizing fellow Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman for investigating the role of credit card companies and package carriers in purchases of prescription drugs from Canada.

"Senator Coleman must have been misquoted," Gutknecht said in a facetious news release after Coleman told The Wall Street Journal that such companies "must be scrutinized" as part of his investigation of online pharmacies.

"Surely he doesn't want to sic federal officials on UPS, FedEx and credit card companies to keep Minnesota grandmothers from saving $60 a month on Coumadin," a blood thinner, Gutknecht said.

From the Globe and Mail:
U.S. advised to make morning-after pill available to women over the counter
Emergency contraception -- the morning-after pill -- should be available without a prescription on pharmacy shelves in the United States, next to the Aspirin and cough medicine, U.S. government advisers said yesterday.

The country's largest gynecologists group urged the move, saying it would greatly increase women's ability to get the pills in time to prevent pregnancy: within 72 hours of rape, contraceptive failure or just not using birth control.

Health care spending hits more than $120-billion
Canada will spend $36.4-billion on hospitals — the largest component of health spending, accounting for 30 per cent of total spending. Still, hospital spending has declined steadily in the past 27 years, from 45 per cent of total spending.

Drugs, on the other hand, are one of the fastest-growing components of spending, nearly doubling to 16 per cent. Physician services will cost an estimated $15.6-billion, comprising 12.9 per cent of this year's total spending.

From CBC.ca:
U.S. politician says Canada's threats keep drug prices lower
"Neither price controls, nor the threat of patent theft, are driving lower drug prices in Canada," said Kergin, who attributed them in part to the exchange rate, bulk government purchases and lower costs because there's no direct advertising of drugs in Canada.

It's a commonly held opinion among some Americans, who pay the highest drug prices in the industrialized world, that they subsidize research and development of new drugs for countries like Canada with lower prices.

From WEEK-TV (IL):
Prescription Drug Trip
A group of Illinois residents are in Canada Wednesday with U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull to buy prescription drugs.

The busload drove north of the border this week to purchase pharmaceuticals at cheaper prices.

From the Pahrump Valley (Nevada) Times:
Thin reporting on the pharmaceutical lobby (opinion)
The industry claims its only interest is patient safety, yet it threatened to withhold drugs from Maine. It is making a similar blacklist threat against Canada, where prices are held down by government regulation (the U.S. is the only major nation without such price restrictions). This week an antitrust investigation of five pharmaceutical firms was announced.

If journalists had knowledge of this kind of background, they might have done a better job of covering the congressional crafting of the Medicare bill, providing more context in their stories. They could have thrown more of a spotlight on the pharmaceutical industry, its campaign contributions, its record of mugging consumers. They might have scrutinized the process with greater skepticism. John McCain might have had more ammunition in his effort to convince his fellow conservatives not to support unrestrained drug prices.

From the Bennington (VT) Banner:
Pioneer on drug imports questions Medicare reform motives
A local pioneer of importing prescription drugs from Canada said Tuesday that the Medicare reform act signed last week by President Bush is politically motivated and deeply flawed.

Elizabeth Wennar, of Manchester, president and CEO of the United Health Alliance, spoke to a group of senior citizens at the Pownal Valley Fire Department's Center Station Tuesday morning. Wennar has worked for four and a half years to help seniors save money on prescriptions by importing drugs from Canada at prices lower than U.S. prices, she said.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

From Time.com:
Blame Canada
You should pay attention to New Hampshire over the next few weeks — and not just because there's a presidential primary coming up. The Republican Governor there has just brought the whole low-cost Canadian drug issue to a head by announcing that his state is going to start buying cut-rate prescription drugs for prison inmates and Medicare patients from Canadian Internet companies, perhaps as early as this week. A lot of Americans get their drugs this way, and some U.S. mayors have started doing the same for their municipal workers. But New Hampshire would be the first state to defy the Food and Drug Administration and openly break the federal law that bans such imports.

From the Portland (OR) Business Journal:
Prescription for controversy
It's been three months since Glen and Diane Bremer opened Canada Drug Services, a drug reimportation business in Tigard, but the pair has already attracted hundreds of customers and drawn fire from state regulators.

Their Canadian drug reimportation service is at the heart of a national debate over whether it's fair for American consumers to be charged two to four times what their counterparts in Canada and Europe are paying for comparable pharmaceuticals.

From CNN.com:
FDA seeks help of credit card firms
The Food and Drug Administration has contacted credit card companies and package carriers to help the agency control unapproved prescription drug imports, according to a report published Tuesday.

The FDA, which has little regulatory power over package haulers and credit card firms, is seeking to set up meetings with the companies. It hopes to stop the flow of controlled substances and counterfeit medicines, and get help in halting commercial operations that illegally import large amounts of prescription drugs, the Wall Street Journal reported.
From Newsday (NY):
Minn. Group to Inspect Canada Pharmacies
A team of Minnesota officials is traveling in Canada this week, inspecting Canadian pharmacies to determine which will be listed on a new state Internet site as safe suppliers of mail-order drugs.

The three-person inspection group headed by Cody Wyberg, pharmacy program manager in the Human Services department, began work Sunday in Toronto and went to Winnipeg on Monday for two days. They will visit pharmacies in Calgary and Vancouver, then report their findings to state Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno on Monday.

From the Fort Worth (Texas) Star Telegram:
Iowa Seniors Take Risk on Importing Drugs
Some Iowans who turn to Canada for their prescription drugs say the savings are worth the risk.

They told The Gazette that they're willing to chance the government's wrath to beat a U.S. industry they think is gouging them. "The government says it's illegal, but I don't feel like a criminal," said Sandy Noren, 66, of Vinton.

From the Macomb (IL) Eagle:
Buying your drugs North of the Border
Over the course of the last few months, there has been a new kind of drug trafficking going on between the United States and Canada. These illegally imported drugs are not your typical cases of marijuana, cocaine or any other narcotic. Oh no, there’s a new drug that’s grabbed the media’s attention and caused many a row between various individuals. The unusual thing about the moving of these drugs across the border is that it is actually encouraged by our government... sort of.

The body of government that supports the importation, or reimportation, is our very own Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and the drugs are actually pharmaceuticals. What Blagojevich has the state of Illinois involved in is the same thing that Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are also doing – attempting to set state-sponsored plans to import prescription drugs from Canada, which, according to a recent governor’s report, sells their pharmaceuticals at a significantly lower price than what they go for in the U.S.

From the Duluth (Minn) News Tribune:
FDA Targets Canadian Drug Importation
Federal regulators are hoping to persuade Boston and New Hampshire officials to abandon plans to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

Food and Drug Administration Associate Commissioner William Hubbard will meet Thursday morning with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

"It's about time we forced the issue," said Menino, who announced last week that the city will begin buying drugs from Canada even though the program is not legal.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
Business plan brings national debate home
Kurt Bricault's plan to open an Internet business that allows access to lower-cost Canadian prescription drugs and the Planning Board's decision whether to issue a permit for the business has delivered a nationally growing controversy to the city's doorstep.

Bricault asserts that his proposed opening of a Discount Drugs of Canada affiliate at 85 Main St. is legal. According to Bricault, his proposal is permitted under Federal Communications Commission regulations involving access to information on the Internet. Planning Board members have expressed concerns about the legality of the venture, and last Monday postponed a decision on Bricault's special permit application until January.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

From the New Haven Register:
DeLauro wants end to foreign drug ban
DeLauro argued in a letter to Thompson that the possibility is "an acknowledgment that pharmaceuticals produced and purchased in other industrialized nations … have equivalent safety standards as those in the U.S., and thus are appropriate for consumption by U.S. citizens."

DeLauro noted that the government bought the Bayer antibiotic Cipro from Canada during the anthrax bioterror attacks of late 2001.

"The Food and Drug Administration can not name a single American who has been injured or killed by drugs bought from licensed Canadian or European pharmacies," DeLauro wrote. She said it was "unfortunate that American citizens do not have the same legal right as the federal government to take advantage of the world marketplace for affordable prescription drugs."

From the Indianapolis Star:
Pfizer tightens drug sales to Canadian firms
U.S. drug imports totaled about $650 million in 2002, according to IMS Health Inc., a market-research firm. Pfizer told Canadian distributors in a letter that they must seek approval to sell its drugs to new customers. The distributors also will be asked to flag pharmacies whose purchases exceed certain limits.

"Our modified trade terms require that you not accept any order from, or otherwise sell products to, any purchasers that are not on the most recent list provided to you by Pfizer," the letter said. The restrictions went into effect Thursday.

From the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
Mayor supports Canadian drug buys
Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas is proposing to buy Canadian drugs for employees in the county's health plan and use the savings to subsidize drug costs of low-income senior citizens.

Penelas will make a presentation to the county commissioners on Tuesday, with a vote expected Jan. 20 on whether to make a study of the issue, said his chief of staff, Javier Soto. After the 60-day study, the county would decide whether to pursue the idea.

From the Lowell (Mass) Sun:
On Canada prescriptions, a dose of caution
Lowell City Manager John Cox is intrigued by the potential cost-savings that would come with providing prescription drugs from Canada to the city's employees, except for a couple of things.

It's illegal. And maybe dangerous.

The federal government doesn't allow municipalities to buy drugs from outside the United States for employees. The federal Food and Drug Administration also says drugs bought outside the country may not be healthy for those taking them.

Friday, December 12, 2003

From Yahoo News:
U.S. May Overwhelm Canadian Pharmacies
As CEO of Canadameds.com, one of the popular new enterprises selling low-price prescription drugs from Canada to U.S. customers, Mike Hicks is used to watching business grow fast.

But even he is unsure how he would respond if the city of Boston, which this week announced a plan to buy drugs from Canada, asked his firm to handle prescriptions for a pilot program open to roughly 7,000 of its current and retired employees?

From White Plains (NY) Journal News:
Westchester to offer medicine discount
Westchester County plans to offer a discount prescription drug service, starting in January, aimed at residents who don't have health insurance, a program that would offer pharmaceuticals from Canada as an option.

The service could make Westchester County only the second government in the country buying prescription drugs from Canada, a growing practice that the federal Food and Drug Administration says is illegal. Springfield, Mass., is the only place now doing so, according the FDA.

From CBC.ca:
Health Canada to review use of psychiatric drugs on kids
Health Canada is reviewing whether a class of drugs - known as SSRIs - is safe for the treatment of depression in children and adolescents. The review is looking at data on many of the top-selling psychiatric drugs, including Paxil, Prozac and Celexa. None of the drugs is licensed for use in children, but doctors often do still prescribe them.

Word of the review follows two Health Canada warnings. In July, the agency cautioned that children and teens taking Paxil could be at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts. In September, it issued a similar warning about Effexor.

From the Birmingham (Alabama) News:
Alabama hears sales pitch, but hasn't purchased Canadian drugs
Two Medicaid officials from Alabama heard a sales pitch for cheap prescription drugs from Canada, but made no purchases at a meeting in Atlanta, a state agency spokesman said Friday.

Recent Medicare legislation included a ban on the reimportation of Canadian drugs unless it's first approved by federal regulators.

The two Alabama officials attended a sales meeting with five Canadian drug company representatives at an Atlanta hotel on Thursday, but had not returned to their offices Friday for comment, agency spokesman Mike Lewis said.

From the Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune:
Canadian drug issue forces state to choose between budget, economic development
During a speech to business leaders this week, Mayor Tom Menino heralded the importance of luring science and biotech companies to his city - the same kind of companies that are adamantly opposed to the Canadian drug reimportation plan that he embraced two days earlier.

The mayor's announcement that Boston would join Springfield, Cambridge and now the state of New Hampshire in encouraging its employees to purchase drugs from across the border has heightened the political discourse in Massachusetts about how to limit the high cost of drugs without alienating an industry considered essential to its economic recovery.
From Forbes:
US lawmaker says Canada drug price controls unfair
The Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said Thursday that Canadian prescription drug price controls and patent policies were skewing the market and forcing U.S. consumers to pay more for pharmaceuticals sold in the United States.

"It is wrong that our friends in Canada use threats to steal patents of American drug companies in order to negotiate lower prices, and their price control regime is unfair to American consumers," the Illinois Republican said in a statement.
From Newsday (NY):
Westchester County sets up discount drug program
Westchester County has set up a prescription drug network to help uninsured or underinsured residents afford their medications.

County Executive Andrew Spano announced Thursday that beginning Feb. 1, for $15 per person or $26 per family, paid yearly, consumers will receive cards identifying them as members of the county program.

They can then go to any of 114 pharmacies in the county for a discount; order medications by mail for a larger discount if the medication is not needed immediately; or take advantage of a Canadian pharmacy option that could result in even lower prices.

From the Toronto Star:
Natural remedies renewed
Insomniacs will be able to sleep easier thanks to new regulations for natural health products that take effect next month.

One favourite natural health product — melatonin, long used as a sleep aid and to counter jet lag — is listed on the natural health product monographs approved by the federal government and will be allowed to go on sale in January. Health foods stores were told to stop selling melatonin in the mid-90s because it was considered a drug.

From the Portland (Maine) Press Herald:
As New Hampshire, Massachusetts go, so goes Maine?
Following the lead of New Hampshire and Boston, Maine officials are considering whether to try to rein in prescription drug costs by importing medicines from Canada.

Trish Riley, director of the Gov.´s Office of Health Finance Policy, plans to brief lawmakers Wednesday on their options.

"We´re looking at drug reimportation from a whole bunch of directions. We´re looking to save anything, anytime, anywhere," she said.

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
New Hampshire to put Canadian drugs mere click away for its residents
In just over a week, New Hampshire plans to become the first state to help its residents buy cheaper medicines from Canada. All it will take is the click of a mouse on a state Web site and a prescription from a licensed New Hampshire doctor.

The state also plans to buy prescription drugs in bulk from Canada for its prison inmates and some Medicaid recipients.

From the Boston Channel:
Finneran Against Buying Canadian Drugs
At least one powerful Massachusetts politician is not impressed with the move to buy prescription drugs from Canada.

House Speaker Tom Finneran told the Boston Herald it will drive what he calls a fatal stake through the heart of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in Massachusetts.

From the Missoulian (MT):
State won't join push for cheaper drugs
Here in Montana, consumer advocacy groups like AARP Montana support the importation of Canadian drugs, since most prescription pills from Canada cost 40 percent to 50 percent less than their American counterparts.

But state officials aren't doing much about it.

"There is nothing being pursued from this office at this time," said Chuck Butler, spokesman for Gov. Judy Martz. "Frankly, there hasn't been anyone suggesting we do that."

Thursday, December 11, 2003

From the New York Times:
Boldly Crossing the Line for Cheaper Drugs
Mr. Benson plans to set up a Web site for residents to buy drugs from Canadian Internet companies, with restrictions. The pharmacies would have to be licensed in Canada and approved by the New Hampshire Health and Human Services Department. Buyers would have to have prescriptions signed by American physicians and approved by Canadian physicians, and the medication would have to be shipped to New Hampshire in its original packaging.

From the Takoma (MD) Voice:
Montgomery County looks north for cheaper drugs
Last month, Montgomery County joined a growing list of U.S. jurisdictions looking north of the border for solutions to growing employee health care concerns.

On Nov. 4, the Montgomery County Council agreed to study a proposal to search for prescription drugs in Canada in an effort to cut the cost of its employees’ health plan.
From the Centre Daily (PA) Times:
States Hear Pitch for Canadian Medication
About a dozen states are exploring ways to buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada and make them widely available to Americans, even though importing the medicines is illegal.

Representatives from the states met with five Canadian drug companies at an Atlanta hotel Thursday to hear their pitch on how to sell the drugs safely and within the law.

From the Portsmouth (NH) Herald:
Pharmacy association urges caution on buying Canadian prescription drugs
New Hampshire citizens should be cautious about buying prescription drugs from Canadian outlets, a state association of pharmacies said Wednesday.

"We are concerned that encouraging people to break the law to obtain prescriptions could have very real and tragic consequences," said Ed McGee, president of the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association. "There are many unscrupulous web sites pushing so-called ‘cheap’ drugs that may be dangerous."

From the North Adams (MA) Transcript:
Drug provider assails delay in opening
The recent postponement of the Planning Board's decision for the permit of Discount Drugs of Canada has owner Kurt Bricault questioning whether two board members have a conflict of interest and if the decision is legal.

Bricault went before the board Monday night for an occupancy license for his business, which provides Internet services for customers to buy prescription drugs at a reduced rate from pharmaceuticals in Canada. The board questioned the legality of the venture, Board Chairman Michael Leary said Wednesday, and decided to postpone the final decision until its next meeting in January.

From KTVU (CA):
Canadian Drugs Unwelcomed By Boston's Pharmacies
Boston's proposed move to begin importing prescription drugs from Canada may be bad news for some drug providers.

"The city is doing something illegal," said Garry Einsidler, owner of Tremont Drug Co. "They want to break the law, but think it's OK because the power is on their side."

From the Rock Island (IL) Argus:
State plan a bitter pill: Certain prescriptions being denied for those on aid
Pharmacist Richard Moses, owner of The Medicine Shoppe in Rock Island, said the Department of Public Aid has denied five of his customers who are on state aid refills of medication critical to their long-term health.

The denials were for drugs made by the five big drug companies who fought the governor's initiative to lower drug costs, he said. The five drug companies -- AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Wyeth -- make up 20 percent to 25 percent of the market share in Illinois, according to published reports.

From the Nashua (NH) Telegraph:
N.H. residents cautioned of Canadian drugs
New Hampshire residents should be cautious about buying prescription drugs from Canadian outlets, a state association of pharmacies said Wednesday.

“We are concerned that encouraging people to break the law to obtain prescriptions could have very real and tragic consequences,” said Ed McGee, president of the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association. “There are many unscrupulous Web sites pushing so-called ‘cheap’ drugs that may be dangerous.”
From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Wise considers letting W.Va. pharmacies sell Canadian drugs
Gov. Bob Wise is considering allowing all West Virginians to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada through their local pharmacies.

Other states and cities are looking north of the border to buy prescription drugs for their own employees and state programs, like Medicaid. But West Virginia could become the first state to provide local pharmacies with Canadian drugs, which they could sell to anyone state resident.

From KIRO (Wash):
Feds Crack Down On Medicine From Canada
The government's been threatening it for a while, now it looks like the threat is real.

Seniors trying to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada might find themselves caught in a crackdown on counterfeit meds.

As a growing number of cities and states are defying federal restrictions on buying drugs from Canada, the Bush Administration is fighting back.
From the Globe and Mail:
Boston approves plan to buy Canadian drugs
Boston added its name yesterday to the growing list of U.S. cities and states clamouring to buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada, renewing fears of shortages in Canadian pharmacies.

Boston councillors approved a plan at an afternoon meeting that calls for the city's 15,000 insured workers to start getting their prescriptions from Canada by July 1.

From the Metro West Daily News:
Locals behind Canada drug plan
MetroWest municipal leaders yesterday endorsed Boston's plan to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and said similar programs may soon be offered to local town and city employees.

But officials from the pharmacy and biotechnology industries warned such moves jeopardize the state's prescription drug users, stifle innovation and expose municipalities to myriad liabilities. The drug-buying plans also send a "dangerously" mixed message to the very biotechnology firms being courted by the commonwealth, critics say.

From the Fort Lauderdale (FL) Herald Tribune:
Boston, New Hampshire to begin Canadian drug purchases
Pharmacist Gregory Laham knows that prescription drugs are expensive. But the remedy of buying cheaper medication in bulk from Canada is a "prescription for disaster," he said.

The owner of Sullivan's Pharmacy & Medical Supply in the city's Roslindale neighborhood said buying drugs from Canada would take business away from pharmacies, bring dangerous counterfeit drugs into the county, and damage the relationship between doctors and patients, Laham said.

From the Boston Globe:
Arlington shopkeeper is pharmacy sales agent
An Arlington shopkeeper with 10 years in the medical supply business has launched a sideline to supplement his sales of orthopedic shoes and electric wheelchairs: helping Boston-area seniors import drugs from Canada.

Robert Mulcahy has signed up as an affiliate of American Drug Club, a Canadian Internet pharmacy based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that relies on local sales agents to drum up business in exchange for a 10 percent commission.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

From the Caledonian (Vermont) Record:
N.H. May Start Canadian Drug Purchases
New Hampshire is going to investigate re-importing American-manufactured prescription drugs from Canada as a way to reduce the burden of their ever-rising costs - in complete defiance of the federal government.

Gov. Craig Benson made the announcement Tuesday during a press conference. Besides state employees, he said the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health and Human Services also will explore the prospect of allowing employees to re-import prescription drugs.

From the Concord (NH) Monitor:
Benson sees hope in Canada
In an effort to save money, New Hampshire will begin buying prescription drugs from Canada, Gov. Craig Benson said yesterday. But Benson could be setting up the state for a fight with the federal government, as drug officials say Benson's plan is unsafe and illegal, and would potentially expose the state's residents to tainted drugs.

"It's simple to say: He would be breaking the law," said Tom McGinnis, the chief pharmacist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "We worry about the health risks of bringing unknown drugs into this country."

From the Boston Globe:
N.H. to obtain drugs via Canada
Governor Craig Benson of New Hampshire will set up a program to import prescription drugs from Canada, declaring yesterday that he plans to reduce state prescription drug costs even if it means defying the Food and Drug Administration.

In an interview, Benson brushed aside the FDA's repeated warnings about the safety of drugs shipped from Canada. He also dismissed the FDA's caution that importation would expose states to civil lawsuits if someone dies or is injured by an illegally imported drug.

From the Nashua (NH) Telegraph:
State seeks to reimport drugs
Gov. Craig Benson announced plans Tuesday for the state government to purchase cheaper-priced drugs from Canada and allow any adult to use a state Web site to buy their own prescriptions.

“Pharmaceutical companies should charge one price for all the markets that they serve,’’ Benson told reporters.

New Hampshire would become the first state in the nation to buy medications from Canada for low-income residents and the disabled on the Medicaid health insurance program.

From the Seattle Times:
Cities, state to import medicine from Canada
Seeking to reduce Boston's $61 million annual prescription-drug costs, Mayor Thomas Menino yesterday unveiled a health plan that would allow municipal workers to obtain cheaper medications from Canada.

New Hampshire also said yesterday it would start importing some drugs for its prison inmates and Medicaid recipients, making it the first state to engage in the growing but illegal practice. Burlington, Vt., plans to start importing prescription drugs for city employees starting March 1, Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle said yesterday.
From the Boston Herald:
Menino's Rx plan called `illegal'
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and city officials would put the health of employees and retirees at risk if they provide them with Canadian drugs, critics said yesterday.

They also could make taxpayers liable should any lawsuits arise, and that could cost millions more than the city would save under a pilot program proposed by Menino last night, critics said. For instance, critics said, taxpayers could be at risk because the plan runs afoul of federal law.

From USA Today:

Boston, N.H. look to Canada for drugs

The Republican governor of New Hampshire and the Democratic mayor of Boston launched programs Tuesday to allow residents to buy lower-cost drugs from Canada, adding momentum to a growing movement that would defy the Food and Drug Administration.

The efforts by New Hampshire and Boston — which said they can't afford to wait for federal approval — will be watched by states and cities that want to lower their budgets by buying drugs from Canada, where price controls keep costs lower than in the USA.

From the Mid Iowa Enterprise:
Ethical importation of drugs
Health care has been a major issue in the United States of late, with recent focus given to some of the astronomical prices paid for prescription medicine. In contrast, Canadian citizens enjoy a much more economical health care system, which provides citizens with things like free medical care, and low-cost prescription drugs.

From the New York Times:
Pressure on Canada's Online Drug Sellers
With prices that are typically one-half to two-thirds of what drugstores charge in the United States, the Canadian online pharmacies supply a growing number of Americans - about one million, by their latest estimate - with drugs costing some $700 million a year.

The cross-border retail sales of prescription drugs rely on the Food and Drug Administration's discretion to allow imports of small quantities of medicines for personal use. Many state and local politicians have said they favor easier access to cheaper imported drugs for Americans, but the major drug makers have lobbied against the idea, seeing it as a threat to their biggest and most profitable market. The new Medicare law legalizes cross-border drug purchases, but only for foreign drugs that the secretary of health and human services certifies are safe; any certifications are not likely to happen soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

From USA Today:
Fed-up states defy Washington
In his six years in Congress, Rod Blagojevich couldn't get anything done about high prices for prescription drugs. In his first year as Illinois governor, he hopes to set national policy.

The governor wants Illinois to be the first state to legally import prescription drugs from Canada, a precedent that could unlock the borders to a flood of cheaper drugs. "If you leave it to the president and Congress, history tells us nothing will change," says the Chicago Democrat, who served three terms in the House of Representatives before becoming governor.

From the Globe and Mail:
Biovail partner picks up Wellbutrin option
Biovail Corp. said Tuesday marketing partner GlaxoSmithKline PLC plans to exercise its option to develop and register the company's new once-a-day version of anti-depression drug Wellbutrin XL for sale in the European Union and other key markets.

The move, Biovail said, will also see GSK take the drug to western, central and eastern European markets -- a decision the Mississauga-based drug company suggested offers a “clear indication” of its partner's confidence in the treatment's global potential.
From the Fort Lauderdale (FL) Times Sentinel:
Boston, N.H. Announce Drug-Buying Plans
The city of Boston and the state of New Hampshire announced Tuesday they will begin buying prescription drugs from Canada, jumping to the forefront of the growing but illegal movement to take advantage of lower prices across the border.

New Hampshire would become the first state in the country to turn to Canada for drugs, and Boston would become the largest U.S. city.

From CNN.com:
Report: Boston to begin Canadian drug plan
Starting this summer, Boston will begin buying prescription drugs from Canada for thousands of city employees and retirees, a newspaper reported.

Boston would become only the second U.S. city -- after Springfield, about 90 miles west -- to turn to Canada for drugs.

Mayor Thomas Menino was expected deliver remarks about the pilot program at a City Council hearing on Tuesday.

From the Toronto Star:
Boston to buy Canadian pharmaceuticals
City officials hope to begin buying prescription drugs from Canada for thousands of city employees and retirees by this summer, an official said today.

Mayor Thomas Menino was expected to endorse such a plan at a meeting of the city council this afternoon, according to Coun. Michael Ross. The council, which had already approved a feasibility study into the idea, was expected to support the proposal.

From the Boston Globe:
City looks to get drugs via Canada
Beginning next July, Boston plans to import prescription drugs from Canada for thousands of city workers and retirees, under a cost-saving proposal Mayor Thomas M. Menino will announce today.

The pilot program, outlined in remarks scheduled to be delivered at a City Council hearing, would probably shave about $1 million a year off the city's $61 million prescription drug bill, according to city estimates. The savings are expected to be relatively small at first, because the program would be voluntary and cover a limited selection of medicines.

From WNNE-TV (Vermont):
Benson Announces Program To Reimport Drugs From Canada
New Hampshire will become the first state in the country to reimport prescription drugs from Canada, in what Gov. Craig Benson said would be a move that could save seniors millions of dollars.

Many New Hampshire seniors have boarded buses for Canada for years to buy prescription drugs at lower prices. But Benson said Tuesday those rides will soon be a thing of the past.

"I used to have a business that sold products worldwide. I didn't get to charge three times the amount for a different market," Benson said. "I think pharmaceutical companies should charge one price for the markets they serve."

From KARE (Minnesota):
Minnesota Prescription Drug Internet Link to Be Scaled Back

In the next two weeks, a team of state officials are expected to choose finalists from Canadian pharmacies vying to be included on the nation's first state-sponsored link to prescription drugs from Canada.

But what happens after that will be less ambitious than what Gov. Tim Pawlenty described to Congress last month.

Officials designing the Internet site say the state has dropped the idea of negotiating lower prices for Minnesotans than the pharmacies now offer other customers.

From the (Florida) Ledger:
Looking North For Drugs (editorial)
For almost a year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been warning American consumers about the dangers of ordering prescription drugs from Canada. The FDA has repeatedly said it cannot guarantee the safety of the drugs -- even though some are made in America, shipped to Canada and then purchased by Americans for less than they can buy the same medications for in the United States.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
Canadian drugs operation seeks permit in N. Adams
The Planning Board deferred to its January meeting a decision on a special permit for a service that would aid people in acquiring prescription drugs from Canada while it sought a legal opinion about the proposed 85 Main St. business.

According to the permit applicant, Kurt Bricault of North Adams, the Discount Drugs of Canada uses the Internet to permit people access to Canadian prescription medications, pharmacies to ship the medications and physicians to approve them. A consumer would seek the information about prescriptions from Bricault, who would forward requisition forms to Canada as well as fax prescriptions issued by local physicians.

Monday, December 08, 2003

From the Boston Herald:
Kennedy to unveil prescription drug bill alternative
Just hours after President Bush signed the landmark prescription drug bill into law on Monday, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was ready with his legislative response - a bill that would repeal many of the key aspects of the new law.

The measure, which will face an uphill battle, would limit payouts to the private insurance plans to amounts that reflect Medicare's cost, allow drug reimportation from Canada, and eliminate a limited experimental program that sets up direct competition between traditional Medicare and new private managed care plans.
From the Billings (MT) Gazette:
Judge lifts injunction against Billings’ Rx Depot store
A District Court judge has lifted an order that shut down a Billings store that helped customers get prescription drugs from Canada. But Rx Depot is expected to remain closed for now, pending federal action that has closed similar businesses across the country.

Judge Jeffrey Sherlock in Helena dissolved the temporary court order against Rx Depot in August by the Montana Board of Pharmacy, saying proper notice of a hearing on the injunction wasn’t given. In an written order issued last week, he said the board can reapply, however, and give proper notice.

Jack Atkins, an attorney for the board, said Monday he likely won’t do anything right away. He said the practical effect of the order is "nothing, because the feds shut them down, and they will be shut down" for now.

From American Medical News:
Congress OKs drug reimportation from Canada with safety caveat
The measure included with Medicare reform is unlikely to lead to legalization, but proponents aren't ready to give up.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

From the Iowa City Press Citizen:
Pharmacists weigh in on Vilsack's drug plan
While some are critical of Gov. Tom Vilsack's plan to reimport prescription drugs from Canada, local and state pharmacists say it will be business as usual if he gets his way.

For years, the prices of prescription drugs have skyrocketed, forcing many to choose between buying groceries and buying medications. In response, many Canadian pharmacies have been advertising in the United States about their low drug costs. More and more people are buying their medications, which are manufactured in the U.S., imported to Canada and then reimported to this country.

Jim Mennan, a pharmacy manager at Hy-Vee, 812 S. First Ave. in Iowa City, said Vilsack's plan would not affect his store much. He said pharmacies would not lose much money if the ban on reimportation were lifted.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

From the Toronto Star:
U.S. takes aim at cheaper drugs
The bill, which President George Bush will sign into law Monday, forbids the government from using its purchasing power to negotiate better prices with the pharmaceutical industry.

It also requires a study to be undertaken of price controls used in other countries that may hinder the profitability of U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies. Having foresworn the use of price controls in their own market, a number of American politicians now hope to dismantle those in other countries.

Dennis Hastert, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, has lobbied the White House to use international trade rules to challenge Canada's price controls, which are administered by our Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. It's something that the pharmaceutical industry has been pushing for years.

From the Allentown (PA) Times:
Cheaper prescriptions shipped into Canada and back to USA
As for his own patriotism, Syed pointed to many of those who use Rx4uNOW who are former Armed Services members, or who are just patriots in their own right.

"It's hard for them to use another country to get their medication," he said. "They are proud of America and love it. They don't want to have to do this, but the alternatives aren't very good."

From the Oregon News Review:
Roseburg issues license to Canada Drug Supply
In a reversal of an earlier decision, the city of Roseburg has issued a business registration to Canada Drug Supply.

City Manager Randy Wetmore sided with the owners of the business after considering testimony presented during an appeals hearing held Wednesday. Wetmore said he decided to leave any broad policy decisions concerning the importation of drugs from Canadian pharmacies to higher authorities.

"We decided that the state Board of Pharmacy should really be the ones to make any decision," Wetmore said this morning. "It's a state or federal enforcement issue, rather than a city enforcement issue."

Ad, letter aimed at Boston firms
In an assault evoking images of rivalry dating from the Civil War, a North Carolina biosciences group has taken out a pricey full-page ad in The Boston Globe, pitching Massachusetts biotech companies to move their operations to or grow them in the Tar Heel State.

Friday, December 05, 2003

From WTVF (Tenn):
Board Says It Will Fight Canadian Prescription Company
The Tennessee's Pharmacy Board said it's ready to shut the company down if it opens, but the company behind the effort said it's ready for a fight.

Nashville resident Louise Colvin said her monthly prescription drug bill is $528.

Colvin and others like her are saving money through companies like Canadian Drugs 2U.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

From The Tennessean:
Shops link consumers, Canadian pharmacies
A new Medicare prescription drug bill has been signed into law, but relief from high prices — if any — is still three years away.

In the meantime, the state hasn't shut down a small but persistent crop of businesses that help people get medications from Canada for prices that are up to 75% cheaper than in the United States.

On Monday, Canadian Discount will open its doors in downtown Columbia to link even more consumers with Canadian pharmacies that fill and ship prescriptions within a few weeks.

From The Australian:
Canada to test SARS vaccine
Canadian scientists say they are less than a year away from testing a SARS vaccine in humans and 18 months away from making it widely available if it works, but are not sure how they will manufacture it once clinical tests are completed.

"Our mandate has been to develop a human vaccine as fast as possible," said Brett Finlay, microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia and scientific director of the SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative, a provincial funded project.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

From The Boston Channel:
Local Storefront Offering Canadian Drugs To Customers
With the cost of prescription drugs climbing, more people are looking to Canada to find cheaper name-brand medications, and a local storefront is bringing those savings to their customers.

NewsCenter 5's Janet Wu reported that a Rehoboth store has begun selling prescriptions from a Canadian pharmacy. While the federal government said these businesses are illegal, they are apparently doing little to stop them.

From Suffolk (NY) Life:
Gov't Examines Lower Drug Costs
As U.S. prescription prices continue to rise, Suffolk County is looking for ways to cut the costs for county employees that would elicit significant savings all around.

Congressman Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) and County Executive-elect Steve Levy announced last Tuesday that they are forming a committee to study the feasibility and possible savings through the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

From New Winnipeg:
Cross Border Drug Dispute Heats Up
It's well known that Canada's health and safety standards are similar to, if not better than, our neighbours to the south. That's not what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would have us believe.

In a scramble to seal the border to cheap prescription drugs purchased through Internet pharmacies, the FDA is claiming that Canadian drugs are unsafe-much to the chagrin of Health Canada. And although the FDA says it's acting in the interests of public health, many believe it's just trying to protect the profits of the multi-billion dollar U.S. pharmaceutical industry.

From Turn to 10 (RI):
Renamed Drugstore Continues Selling Canadian Prescriptions
The name's not the same, but the mission is: offering prescription drugs from Canada at a big discount.

The state threatened to close down Prescription Discounters in Warwick, saying the store was breaking the law by having the word "prescriptions" in its name with no pharmacist employed at the location. So the owners changed the name to Canada Direct. They also addressed a violation regarding patient privacy forms. The owners said they will send the Rhode Island Health Department a letter notifying them of the changes.

From the Oregon News Review:
Canada Drug Supply hearing set Wednesday
An appeals hearing on Canada Drug Supply's application to obtain a business registration from the city of Roseburg will take place on Wednesday.

The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. in the third-floor conference room at Roseburg City Hall, 900 S.E. Douglas Ave. An earlier story gave the wrong day.

The city refused to issue the registration, required in order for a business to operate within the city limits. Officials cited a letter from the state Board of Pharmacy, accusing the company of operating a pharmacy without a license, as the basis of their denial.
From the Boston Business Journal:
North Shore towns reportedly explore buying Canadian drugs
Beverly and Salem city officials are exploring the formation of a regional consortium with at least two other North Shore communities that would let city employees buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, the Salem News is reporting.

From Canada.com:
Google search engine stops accepting ads from unlicensed pharmacies
Online search engine Google Inc. has stopped accepting advertisements from unlicensed pharmacies, joining other popular websites that have bowed to pressure to curb the illegal distribution of prescription drugs such as Vicodin.

From WBBH (FL):
FDA holding up Canadian drug shipments
Some customers who get their prescription drugs through the mail from Canadian pharmacies might be waiting much longer now. The Food and Drug Administration says they are stopping some of those drugs at the Canadian border – for quality control.

Monday, December 01, 2003

From the Globe and Mail:
U.S. Medicare bill won't be a cure
Canada's cheaper drug prices have become a central issue in the U.S. health care debate.

Congress dropped a plan to legalize the importation of Canadian prescription drugs.
It was also no surprise that the Republican-controlled Congress shunned price controls in drafting the bill.

At the same time, Congress completely ignored the main reason that Canadian drug prices are substantially lower -- the buying clout of government health plans.

There's a common misconception in the United States that Canada's drug price control regime is why Canadian prices are so much cheaper. Far more important is the fact that governments in Canada exploit their size as buyers to become the price-setter in the market.

From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Jackson proposes state prescription drug plan
The state of West Virginia could buy wholesale prescription drugs from the United States, Canada and other countries and distribute them to local pharmacies to sell under a plan proposed Sunday by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lloyd Jackson.

Jackson said he would create a nonprofit wholesale drug program within the state Public Employees Insurance Agency. The lower-cost drugs could be sold to any state resident, not just state employees.

From the Topeka (Kan) Capital Journal:
Smoke Screen -- Stop the scare tactics (editorial)
In a report issued this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admitted it cannot identify a single American who has been injured or killed by drugs bought from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

You read that right.

Not one.

OK, we know we run a risk when we say "none," but it does point out one of the fundamental flaws in the arguments against getting drugs from Canada: They aren't, as has been alleged, necessarily dangerous or adulterated.

From CBC Calgary:
Shortage of insulin worries diabetics
A shortage of a particular brand of insulin has left some Calgary pharmacy shelves empty for weeks and has some diabetics seeking alternative medication.

Drug stores around the country haven't been able to get "Humulin N" and Humulog insulin from their suppliers.

Eli Lily Canada, which produces the brand, says a sudden increase in demand caused the shortage.

From Canada.com:
Province orders more flu vaccine
The seasonal outbreak of the flu has created a run on the flu vaccine.

The provincial government has put in an order for more while private pharmacies are having trouble getting enough to meet the demand.

From the Harrison (Ark) Daily Times:
Harrison native fighting the feds
After an October court ruling shutting down RX Depot stores in Oklahoma, Harrison native David Peoples told of turning away an elderly couple from his Tulsa, Okla. storefront.

"The wife turned to the husband and asked 'Honey, where are we going to go now?'" said Peoples, the company's chief operating officer.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

From Business Week:
An Iffy Prognosis for Online Pharmacies
Despite the chaos the spammers currently create, the economic advantages of selling prescription meds online will keep driving sales toward the Web. "The Internet is the most efficient channel for processing transactions," says Tom Feitel, senior vice-president of e-commerce at Medco, who adds that the difference in margins between online and offline transactions is "significant."
From Newsday (NY):
Drug Bill Revisited
Republicans barely had time to celebrate the victory of passing a Medicare drug bill last week when Democrats revived an effort to allow the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

Congress passed landmark legislation Tuesday to add the prescription drug benefit. But tucked in the measure is a provision that essentially kills a move to allow the re-importation of drugs from Canada by requiring that the federal Health and Human Services secretary certify the drugs are safe. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, a Republican, has repeatedly said he won't do that.

From CHAD (PQ):
Bush gets prized Medicare deal, but pressure for cheap drugs still there
The U.S. Congress passed President George W. Bush's prized Medicare overhaul Tuesday with a new prescription drug benefit for seniors and a large future role for private insurers.

But analysts predicted there will still be pressure for price controls and cheaper drugs from Canada as Americans search for further relief from the highest medication prices in the industrialized world.

From the Houston Chronicle:
Medicare bill dooms store
The Houston store that helped people buy prescription drugs from Canada is closing, and the Medicare bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday is a main reason why.

"We are telling people we are no longer in business," said Tod Knight, part owner of Canadian Prescriptions Direct, perhaps the only retail outlet of its kind in the Houston area.

From the Montreal Gazette:
Health claims of supplements questioned
Sports-nutrition products represent a booming, unregulated business selling potentially hazardous supplements to consumers, say Montreal nutritionists.

They said they welcome an investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency into the contents and labelling of a range of these products, such as protein- or carbohydrate-enriched foods or drinks, meal replacements, supplements and products marketed for quick weight loss or muscle-building.
From the Barre Montpellier (VT) Times Argus:
Douglas proposing drug importation
Gov. James Douglas on Wednesday announced that he is seeking federal approval for a prescription drug reimportation program for nearly 20,000 state employees, retirees and their families.

State pharmacists promptly condemned the idea as unsafe and a potential bit loss of their business.

The governor said that state officials would file a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make a Canadian drug purchasing option available for participants in Vermont's employee health plans, despite that agency's stated opposition to any reimportation schemes.

From the Everett (WA) Herald:
Medicare overhaul won't keep drug costs from rising
Seniors will face annual increases in premiums and deductibles, and a growing gap in coverage, for the prescription drugs they buy under the new Medicare law, budget analysts say.

The $250 annual deductible at the start of the program in 2006 is projected to rise to $445 by 2013.

The legislation that won final congressional approval Tuesday would allow seniors to buy coverage -- at an estimated monthly premium of $35 -- for their prescription drugs beginning in three years. After they agreed to the monthly premiums and paid their first $250 in pharmacy bills, the coverage would kick in, paying 75 percent of their bills between $250 and $2,250.

From the Palm Beach (FL) News:
Feds close Boca store that provided links to cheap Canadian drugs
A store that helped consumers buy discounted drugs from Canada shut its doors Tuesday, apparently the first in Florida to be closed by federal action, state health regulators say.

But the federal Food and Drug Administration vows that the 85 stores affiliated with RxDepot Inc. nationwide won't be the last targets, as it steps up its efforts against the popular Canadian storefronts that it claims are operating illegally.
From the Boston Globe:
FDA has no reports of drugs from Canada harming US users
Although they've been warning Americans about the dangers of prescription drugs from Canada for nearly a year, US Food and Drug Administration officials can't name a single American who has been injured by drugs bought from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

"We don't have that," said Tom McGinnis, the FDA's director of pharmacy affairs. "I can't think of one thing off the top of my head where somebody died or somebody got put in the hospital because of these medications. I just don't know if there's anything like that."

From the Lincoln (IL) Courier:
Governor puts squeeze on big drug companies
The governor’s plan takes aim at the five companies that have restricted sales to Canada to stop the flow of re-imported drugs. Blagojevich on Tuesday said he will eliminate any drugs manufactured by those companies from the drug list used by state employees, retirees, inmates and psychiatric patients, when an alternative is available.

"We are not going to just sit back and watch the big drug companies use their political clout and their dominance of the marketplace to force Americans to continue to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs," Blagojevich said.

From the Contra Costa (CA) Times:
Cities, states take initiative to buy drugs from Canada
As the Senate approved a $400 billion Medicare package including a prescription drug benefit Tuesday, lawmakers left unanswered one of the most pressing questions in the debate: Should Americans be allowed to buy cheaper medicine from Canada?

But that does not mean the issue is going away.

Some city and state governments are pressing ahead to set up programs to re-import U.S.-made drugs from Canada.

That could set the stage for a showdown between the states and federal health regulators, who maintain the practice is illegal.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Despite new law, seniors keep buying Canadian drugs
When Congress approved drug coverage under Medicare this week, it also agreed that Americans shouldn't be allowed to buy cheaper drugs in Canada without assurances that those drugs are safe.

But questions about Canadian drugs won't keep Ohioans from crossing the border for a bargain. The Strongsville Senior Center's next bus trip to a Canadian pharmacy is Jan. 15. Rx USA, a Cuyahoga Heights company, plans a free trip in March.

From the Duluth (MN) News Tribune:
Side effects may waylay nature
Other countries are leading the U.S. in getting medicines out of the water. Australia has collected more than 760 tons of medicines since starting a program in 1998 that encourages consumers to return unwanted drugs to pharmacies so they can be incinerated. Canada has a similar program.

Most U.S. pharmacies, however, won't accept unused or unwanted medicines. Walgreens, one of the nation's largest pharmacy chains, will not accept any returned drugs, company officials said last week.

From the New York Times:
Holding Down Drug Prices (editorial)
We can think of two additional approaches to reducing costs that should have wide appeal. The first is to alter the drug industry's global pricing patterns. Drug companies now charge what the market will bear in this country and sell at lower, government-dictated prices in other industrialized nations, effectively forcing American consumers to pay for research that benefits the rest of the affluent world. The Bush administration needs to instruct the United States trade representative to press for a fairer pricing system, or else Congress should take up again the notion of allowing reimportation of low-cost drugs, not just from Canada but from Western Europe as well.

From CBC:
Is Viagra up for the competition?
There's a new kid on the erectile dysfunction block - and it could give Viagra a run for its money.

Cialis hit the market in Canada today. It's been highly anticipated by many men because it works for up to 36 hours compared to Viagra's five.

From CTV:
Morning after pill may soon be over the counter
Now Health Canada is recommending that emergency contraception be sold over the counter next fall -- without a prescription and without a discussion with a pharmacist.

From the Tarentum Valley (PA) News Dispatch:
Ohio service offers drugs from Canada
Donna Robinson knows the difficulties associated with paying for costly prescriptions. Her mother takes multiple prescriptions. But with only Social Security to cover costs, she couldn't afford her medicine.

Robinson began ordering her mother's drugs through a Canadian pharmacy. Now, 18 months later, she said she can do the same for Valley residents who were left with no prescription-drug alternatives after a federal judge ordered the closing of the Rx Depot branch in Fox Chapel earlier this month

From the Oregon News Review:
Canada Drug Supply set to challenge refusal
An appeals hearing to determine whether the city of Roseburg will issue a business registration to Canada Drug Supply, which offers discounted prescriptions, will be held Tuesday.

So far, city officials have refused to issue the registration, which is required to operate a business within Roseburg's city limits. Questions about the legality of the business -- which faxes prescriptions from local customers to a pharmacy in Canada, where the order is filled and mailed directly to customers -- caused the city to deny the application, City Recorder Sheila Cox said.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

From Health Canada:
Canada's Health Minister responds to comments made by the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration
During their joint press conference Commissioner Mark McClellan made a number of comments regarding the practice of internet pharmacy, how drugs are regulated in Canada and Canada's pharmaceutical pricing regime. I would like to clarify comments made by Dr. McClellan.

First, the Commissioner may have left the impression that unsafe Canadian drugs are going across the border to the United States as a result of the practice of internet pharmacy. Let me assure all Canadians that drugs approved for use in Canada are safe. We have one of the most rigorous drug approval systems in the world to assure safety, quality and efficacy. Health Canada's priority and mandate is the safety of drugs approved for sale in Canada.

From the National Post:
FDA warns Canada: halt drug sales
"What's the job of the FDA? The FDA's responsibility is patient safety. They should not be commenting on profit margins or research costs," said Andy Troszok of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. "They're very political, they're heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry and I think they're stepping outside their bounds. Why is the FDA coming to Canada to get Canada to do their work?"

From Yahoo News:
Drug Firms Take Aim at Canada Trade
Executives of major pharmaceutical companies said on Thursday they are concerned about the safety of Americans who try to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, but companies involved in the cross-border trade say the real issue is pricing.

From the Billings (MT) Gazette:
Mail-order drug company fights shutdown order
A Billings store that arranges cheap Canadian drugs for customers is fighting a state order that shut it down, even as its national affiliate is trying to overcome a similar federal order.

Rx Depot argued in state District Court on Thursday that the state Board of Pharmacy doesn’t have authority over it because the firm does not sell drugs or employ pharmacists.