Saturday, August 30, 2003

From the Toronto Star:
High-stakes showdown
While PhRMA members Pfizer Inc., GlaxoSmithKline PLC, AstraZeneca PLC and Wyeth Co. have each gone to extraordinary lengths in attempting to limit supply of their products to Canadian pharmacies that promise not to engage in cross-border sales, at the same time they try to make light of the estimated 1 million Americans now said to be buying close to $1 billion worth of prescription drugs from the Canadian discounters.

From the San Mateo County (CA) Times:
U.S. drug industry throttling Canada's Internet pharmacies
Major drug companies have embarked on a campaign to strangle supplies to Canadian Internet pharmacies, driving up the prices of drugs and frustrating American consumers looking for cheaper medicine north of the border.

From the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic:
Valley little affected by drug firms' tactics
Businesses that sell Canadian pharmaceuticals in the Valley say they haven't been affected by American drug manufacturers' efforts to stop the sale of prescription drugs from across the border.

From the Canadian Press:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Biovail's Wellbutrin XL
Biovail Corp. has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its once-daily anti-depression drug Wellbutrin XL, the company said Friday.

From the New London (CT) Day:
Read The Warning Label First
H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Sun's brightest star, noting the propensity of Congress to fix things that aren't broke, once sagely observed: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is simple, neat and wrong.”

Friday, August 29, 2003

From the Hartford (CT) Courant:
Prescription Measure Backed
Sanders said he thinks it's absurd that in a global economy that imports everything from everywhere, the U.S. can't buy medicine outside its borders. On this legislation for reducing drug costs, he promised, "We're going to keep the pressure on."

From the Houston Chronicle:
Drug company talks with Canada on Serzone
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. today said it is discussing the safety of its antidepressant Serzone with Canadian regulators, but declined to say whether it is on the verge of pulling the medicine from Canadian drugstores.

Due to liver failure among some patients taking the drug, Bristol-Myers has already stopped selling Serzone in Europe -- leaving Canada, the United States and Australia as its only remaining major markets.
From the San Jose (CA) Mercury News:
Canada's Internet pharmacies hurting from industry steps to halt U.S. sales
In the last eight months, the outlook for Daren Jorgenson's business has gone from upbeat to uncertain.

A strategy by major drug companies to strangle supplies to Canadian Internet pharmacies is stifling the industry, driving up prices and frustrating American consumers looking for cheaper medicines north of the border.

From the Toronto Star:
Drug war crossfire
The cost of all that effort is built into drug prices. Which helps explain why the excitement that once greeted the introduction of a Prozac or Celebrex has now given way to a widespread backlash among those footing the bill.

The recent U.S. outrage over drug prices is coming not just from the millions of low-income Americans who can't afford a yearly meds tab that can easily exceed $5,000. Major employers like General Motors Corp. are balking at the prodigious expense of funding ever-costlier drug plans for employees and retirees.

And U.S. state governments, many of them coping with budget crises, complain that paying even a portion of the drug costs of citizens covered by government health plans like Medicare and Medicaid will push them ever closer to insolvency as the Baby Boom generation moves into its drug-maintenance phase.

From the Kansas City Business Journal:
Canadian pharmacy will offer cheaper prescriptions
A company offering lower costs on prescription drugs by using a Canadian pharmacy will open two area locations.

Canada Drug Services of Kansas will open stores in Overland Park and Independence in early September.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Vt. lawmaker promotes drug-import bill
U.S. Rep. Bernard Sanders says the only real safety issue is that 20 percent of elderly Americans cannot afford the medicines they've been prescribed.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

From the Boston Globe:
FDA sting targets medicine supplier
The US Food and Drug Administration has completed a sting operation targeting the supplier of Canadian drugs to the City of Springfield's employee insurance program, turning up a case of improperly handled insulin and at the same time infuriating Mayor Michael Albano, who called the FDA's tactics "underhanded."

From USA Today:
Canada's cheap drugs not answer, FDA warns
Cities and states should not encourage people to purchase drugs from other countries, nor should they look to import drugs from places like Canada to relieve their own strapped budgets, the Food and Drug Administration warns.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Froma Harrop: Big Pharma facing big challenge
Big Pharma is fighting a war it's bound to lose. If American pharmaceutical companies know what's good for them, they'll sue for peace and try to get the best terms available. So far, though, they've been going for total victory. To them, that means defeating all efforts to lower the prices they charge Americans.

From Quicken:
FDA Warns Cities, States About Buying Canadian Drugs
Federal regulators are moving to stall a drive by some cash-strapped state and city governments to acquire cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals for their employees, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration wrote to the state of California yesterday that state, city and county governments that import prescription drugs from Canada will nearly always be in violation of federal law. The agency also said that federal laws pre-empt state, city or county efforts to legalize the importation of drugs from Canada.

From the Hartford (CT) Courant:
Rep. Sanders To Do Four State Drug Blitz
"If we can pass a strong drug reimportation bill in the Senate, similar to what was passed in the House, we can lower the cost of prescription drugs in the country by 30 (percent) to 50 percent," Sanders said Wednesday. "And I intend to make that happen."

From the Wakefield (MA) Observer:
Making affordable prescriptions a reality
Commentary by Rep. Mike Festa who represents the 35th Middlesex District, which includes Wakefield precincts 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

From the Buffalo News:
Survey shows gap between U.S., Canadian drug costs
Sen. Charles E. Schumer today released a new survey that starkly contrasts the high cost of prescription medication in New York State with the same drugs available in Canada.

A survey of more than 120 pharmacies statewide - eight in the Buffalo area - shows that local residents could save hundreds of dollars a year on many of the most commonly prescribed medications if they had access to drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

From Minnesota Public Radio:
A bipartisan call for drug reimportation
Seniors packed a Bloomington retirement community chapel Monday to hear about the high cost of prescription drugs. A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged them to lobby Congress in support of allowing the reimportation of prescription drugs from other countries. They say if Congress adds a prescription drug benefit to Medicare without doing anything about rising drug costs, seniors will be no better off.

From WBFO (NY):
Schumer Supports Re-Importation of Drugs from Canada
"The Lipitor in Canada is same as Lipitor in U.S. The Allegra is the same as in the United States, the Norvasc is the same," Schumer said. "They're just trying to scare you."

Appearing at the Amherst Senior Citizens Center yesterday, senior John Niedbalski of Hamburg says his wife takes 26 different prescription drugs each day. But he doesn't buy into the claims that Canadian drugs are unsafe.

"If there was truth to it there would be a lot of dead or sick Canadians," Niedbalski said.

Monday, August 25, 2003

From the Palm Beach (FL) Post:
Discount Drugs changes hands
Earle Turow, the Delray Beach retiree who helped spark a nationwide movement of buying low-cost prescription drugs from Canada at U.S. stores, has sold his Discount Drugs of Canada business to one of his storefront operators.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Gutknecht pushes drug-importation bill at town hall meeting
It was a bit like a revival meeting Monday, with Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., exhorting a roomful of enthusiastic older Minnesotans to push Congress to open the door to importing drugs as a way to help save Americans from drug-company greed.

"This is not a debate between the right and the left," the conservative Republican said as he opened a congressional Town Hall Meeting on prescription drugs, with Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., by his side. "This is between right and wrong, and it is simply wrong to force Americans to pay the world's highest prices for prescription drugs."

From WIVB-TV (NY):
Schumer Pushes Plan to Reduce Cost of Prescription Drugs
Senator Schumer says he's not out to slay the drug companies, believing they should make a profit, and Schumer says don't believe those, who try to tell you the prescription drugs from Canada are not safe.

Importer of Canadian drugs closes
A drug discounter in Winston-Salem that shipped cheap Canadian prescription medications for U.S. Medicare recipients has closed its doors only three months after opening.

Rx Price is Right, which opened May 1 off Silas Creek Parkway, was one of five firms in North Carolina that were under a June cease-and-desist order from the N.C. Pharmacy Board. Like its sister firms, Rx Price is Right promised clients 50 percent savings on prescription medications shipped from Canada.

From WHTR-TV (IN):
New pharmacy in town gives patients a pricing alternative
He says people who want cheaper drugs just come in and get a quote. "Then they fill out a little bit of paperwork, medical questionnaire, patient information and customer agreement and with a payment. I fax that, all the information, up to a Canadian pharmacy."

From WISH-TV (IN):
Business Offers Discount Prescription Drugs
Senior citizens in Indiana who need prescription drugs now have a new place to shop.

It's the first day of business for RX Depot on the east side of Indianapolis on Shadeland Ave. RX Depot offers cheap versions of prescription drugs that are imported from Canada. However, the practice of importing such drugs from Canada has generated some controversy.

From (IN):
Indy Outlet Offers Cheaper Canadian Drugs
A service center to help people buy lower-cost prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies opened Monday morning on the city's east side.

From the Denver Post:
AG targets importing of drugs
Colorado should make it a felony to operate an unlicensed pharmacy by importing drugs from unregistered foreign pharmacies, Attorney General Ken Salazar told a group of independent pharmacists Sunday.

Salazar spoke to RxPlus Pharmacies at its annual meeting and discussed what his office is doing to combat the illegal sale of prescription drugs from Internet and mail-order sales.

In addition to stiffening penalties, a Salazar aide said the legislature should make it illegal to operate a website that charges people to connect them with unregulated pharmacies.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

From the Detroit News:
Why drugs cost more in the U.S.
Buying prescriptions drugs from a Canadian mail-order company rather than her neighborhood pharmacy in Farmington Hills will save 74-year-old Erica Shire at least $2,000 this year.

Shire, who takes seven medications daily to control diabetes and a heart problem, would rather buy her medicine in America but simply can't afford it.

"I don't know why the richest country in the world cannot have medication for seniors cheaper," she said.

From the Canadian Press:
Two potential new Viagra rivals heading for lucrative U.S. market
Viagra, the little blue pill that has revolutionized the sex lives of millions of men, has two potential rivals knocking at the door of the big U.S. market.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

From WXYZ-TV (MI):
Local Practice Boycotts Drug Company Over Canadian Controversy
Doctors at the Cardiovascular Specialist practice say buying Canadian is one of the only ways senior citizens can afford their prescription drugs. Many seniors cross the border to buy their medications at a fraction of the cost, or buy them from a Canadian company over the internet. Drug companies like Pfizer don't approve, and are responding to the trend by threatening Canadian companies that they will no longer sell to those who in turn sell to Americans.

Leading their own protest of Pfizer's threats, Dr. Larry Goldman and the dozen cardiologists in his practice are no longer writing prescriptions for Pfizer drugs.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Local outlet for Canadian pharmacy to open Monday
The first service center in Indianapolis to help people buy lower-cost prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies will open Monday on the Eastside.

From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:
Generic U.S. heartburn drugs may entice Canadian buyers south
As Americans continue to flock to Canada via the Internet to buy cheaper-priced pharmaceuticals, Canadians may soon be heading south of the border to stock up on the generic version of the blockbuster heartburn drug Prilosec.

From the Toronto Star:
What's in a name? Elevated drug sales
It's a weird job, but somebody's got to do it: naming an erecetile dysfunction drug.

For example, the little orange pill that pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer are positioning to deflate Viagra, which had 2002 sales of $1.74 billion (U.S.).

Thursday, August 21, 2003

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Mayor vows fight for Canadian drugs
A day after suggesting that the city begin saving money for all of its residents by buying prescription drugs in Canada, Mayor Rolland R. Grant threw down the gauntlet yesterday, saying he'd bring the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if state or federal officials try to block the effort.

Grant said that purchasing less expensive drugs from Canada is "the right thing to do," particularly when health-care costs are spiraling out of control, and that he doesn't believe assertions that bringing in lower-priced prescription drugs is illegal.

From the Palm Beach (FL) Post:
Canadian drug ban could drive you to drink
Millions of people do order drugs from Canada at a handsome savings without a hitch and without keeling over dead from bad drugs.

The FDA intercepts and confiscates maybe one in a thousand orders for the simple reason that it doesn't have the manpower to screen millions of drug orders a year coming in from Canada.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

From the Brookline (MA) Tab:
Smizik supports affordable prescription drug bill (second item)
At a press conference today on Beacon Hill, Smizik supported Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, D-Cambridge), Representative Michael Festa, D-Melrose, and Senator Linda Melconian, D-Springfield) in their efforts to provide detailed specifics of a bill that has launched Massachusetts into the national spotlight as the first state to use the free-market in Canadian prescription drugs to save senior citizens, sick residents, and the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
Springfield mayor urges Pittsfield to adopt Canadian drug program
Springfield Mayor Michael Albano appeared in Pittsfield yesterday, preaching the gospel of his conversion to Canadian prescriptions. Over the past month, about 700 of the roughly 7,000 enrollees in his city's municipal health plan have joined the effort, and he believes his city can save between $4 million and $9 million a year as participation grows, helping cushion the loss of $4.4 million in state funds that forced him to lay off 76 police officers, 52 firefighters and 195 other public employees.

From the Providence (RI) Journal Bulletin:
East Providence Mayor: Buy medicines from Canada
Saying that if the city of Springfield, Mass., can do it, East Providence can do it, too, Mayor Rolland R. Grant is proposing that the city buy prescription drugs from Canada as a way of reducing the cost of health care for the city and its taxpayers.

From the South Florida Business Journal:
Kos partner to sell drugs in Canada
Mississauga, Ontario-based Oryx Pharmaceuticals will receive exclusive commercialization rights to Niaspan and Advicor in Canada, Kos said. The Miami drug maker also said the Oryx deal means Niaspan and Advicor are potentially available in every country around the world except Japan. (Editor Note: Niaspan and Advicor are two very commonly requested products that Canadian pharmacies cannot supply.)
From the Bay City (MI) Times:
Pinconning woman fights to cut cost of drugs
Jean Martin is on a mission to bring affordable prescription medicine to the United States from Canada.

Martin, 61, of Pinconning is the Michigan affiliate of a Florida-based business that funnels prescriptions to Canadian doctors, who in turn mail low-cost drugs to the patients.

From KLTV (TX):
Rx Depot Warned by FDA
Hundreds of East Texans may lose their source for inexpensive prescription drugs. The State and Federal Governments say Rx Depot in Tyler is breaking the law by allowing customers to order medications from Canada.

From the Greenville (SC) News:
Prescription drugs cheaper in Canada
"The skyrocketing cost of pharmaceuticals and their inaccessibility to the masses has got to give somewhere," says Dr. Harris Pastides, dean of the University of South Carolina's School of Public Health.

"We are on the verge of change," he says, "whether it's led by the government or by the people."

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

From NBCi5-TV (TX):
Local Business Offers Half-Price Prescriptions
Some North Texas businesses that offer half-price prescriptions are becoming popular with North Texans who don't have prescription drug coverage.

From the Louisville (KY) Business Journal:
Louisville firm advises seniors on pharmacy options
Precision Healthcare Delivery, a Louisville health care consulting and management firm, now is offering a program designed to help Medicare recipients save money on prescription dug costs.

The program, called PharmAssist, provides members a consultation with a registered pharmacist, who helps individuals determine "the most cost-effective means to get their prescriptions filled," according to a news release. The pharmacist will look at various programs offered by drug companies and enroll patients in eligible programs. The pharmacist also will review Canadian drugs and prices to find lower-cost alternatives.

From the Canadian Press:
Over-the-counter pain relievers might help prevent Parkinson's disease: study
Regular use of over-the-counter pain relievers might help delay or prevent Parkinson's disease, the neurological disorder that affects hundreds of thousand of North Americans, research suggests.

The risk of developing the disease was 45 per cent lower in people who used drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen at least twice weekly than it was in nonusers, according to a review of two large studies.

From the National Post:
McLellan, pharmacists to discuss over-the-counter marijuana sales
Anne McLellan, the federal Health Minister, will hold preliminary discussions with the Canadian Pharmacists Association next month to determine whether its members can distribute medical marijuana instead of doctors.

Answering doctors' questions at the Canadian Medical Association's annual meeting yesterday, Ms. McLellan said the pharmacists' group has "expressed some interest" in providing the dried marijuana to individuals authorized to use it for medical purposes.
From WRAL-TV (NC):
N.C. Pharmacy Board Trying To Clamp Down On Drug Importers
North Carolina is trying to clamp down on a handful of outlets in the state trying to sell prescription drugs imported from Canada at prices markedly lower than U.S. drugstores.

The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy in June ordered five stores, including Canada Drug Outlet in Concord, to stop doing business, saying they are illegal under federal and state law.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
EDITORIAL: Reimporting drugs
The whole current scheme is absurd. Yes, manufacturers should be free to charge any price they want for their goods, anywhere. But the way the free market protects us from price gouging is by allowing us to order our pills from Toronto, or Sweden, or anywhere we please. Why should our own government be colluding to drive up drug prices for our own sick and injured?

"No American should ever enjoy less freedom by virtue of living in the U.S., and no American should be forced to pay higher prices for drugs that are available more cheaply overseas," Dr. Paul concludes. "The ban on reimportation is unconscionable."

From the Troy (NY) Record:
Prescription prices must be brought into line (Editorial)
Drug companies say cutting prices here or allowing the mass importation of drugs from Canada would discourage research into new drugs, given the loss in revenue.

We find that an empty argument. If a profit of any kind is still to be made, new drugs will be developed.
The other big argument from the industry is that the imported drugs could be "unsafe."

Unsafe? The drugs are made in the US and are the same as those sold here in every way. So what, are drug companies saying they make two versions of the same drug, a "safe" concoction for Americans and an "unsafe" formula for Canadians?

From the Austin (TX) American-Statesman:
Rise up, America: Fight for fair drug prices (Editorial)
Governments in other countries contract to buy pharmaceuticals at a lower price, while in the United States, the companies get the highest market price they can. And they don't want Americans buying the cheaper drugs they sell offshore.

It is an indefensible policy, so the pharmaceutical companies have had to argue that the safety of drugs from other countries can't be guaranteed. That won't fly. In many cases, it is the same drug from the same manufacturer, so safety isn't an issue. And Canada is hardly Burkina Fasso.

From the Port Clinton (OH) News Herald:
Something must be done about prescription costs (Editorial)
According to reports, more than a dozen stores in Ohio serve as liaisons between customers and Canadian pharmacies, helping Ohioans to buy lower priced drugs from across the border.

Several Northwest Ohio communities, including Fremont, have considered becoming involved in a mail order network to help people purchase drugs at a cheaper rate, but backed off because of fears that such purchases were illegal. Others have joined the network. This recent report must be leaving officials wondering just what's right.

From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:
Physicians' body puts heat on Net pharmacies
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba wants the province to bring in legislation to find and discipline doctors who sign prescriptions without seeing patients.

From CBC News:
Asthma drugs to carry new warning
Two asthma drugs, Serevent and Advair, will be carrying new warnings about a risk of life-threatening asthma episodes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the benefits of treating patients with Serevent or Advair continue to outweigh the risks, when used according to instructions.

From the Raleigh (NC) Triangle Business Journal:
Bayer drug given the go-ahead in Canada
Gamunex received approval to be used in Canada for the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, primary immune deficiencies, allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and pediatric HIV infection. idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is a condition in which the blood doesn't have enough platelets, which results in slow clotting and excessive brusing.

From (PA):
Ask doctor, not clerk for advice on herbals
"Patients should be talking about their use of natural products with their physicians" and not relying on advice they get in stores, said study author Edward Mills, director of research at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

Researchers from the college visited 34 health food stores in an unnamed Canadian city, posing as customers shopping for a mother with breast cancer. Employees in 27 of the stores recommended an array of purportedly helpful products.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

From the Contra Costa (CA) Times:
Decision on drug imports looming
Congressional negotiators will decide in closed-door meetings next month whether Americans will be allowed to purchase prescription drugs that sell for lower prices in Canada.

Advocates for permitting the sale of mail-order prescription drugs from Canada, including AARP, say it would enable U.S. consumers to buy their medicines at half price because Canadian price controls keep retail prices relatively cheap.

They argue that American taxpayers already foot the bill for government-funded drug research and shouldn't have to pay so much more for medicines.

From the Salt Lake (UT) Tribune:
Pharmaceutical companies spend lavishly on doctors
Opinion by Dr. Tom Metcalf, pediatrician
"Eight of the nine companies spent more than twice as much on marketing, advertising and administration as they did on R&D. Drug company profits exceeded R&D spending by 60 percent; executive compensation and deferred stock options were huge."

R&D does cost a lot, but the U.S. pharmaceutical companies can well afford both R&D and lower income from their products.

From the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald:
'Intelligent pill' could be on sale in five years
(Editor comment: Not specificially related to Canadian pharmacy, but the article shows that research is being done in Canada, despite price controls.)
An "intelligent pill" that dispenses precise amounts of medicine according to what the body needs could be on sale in five years, say researchers.

The iPill, being developed by Canadian scientists, is an electrical device the size of a small coin containing a micropump and sensors.

Once swallowed, the pill measures the body's temperature and acidity balance at several locations, and responds by delivering more or less medicine from an internal reservoir.

From the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger:
Miami firm tied to web distributing fake Lipitor
Congressional investigators have identified a Florida company as part of the pipeline for counterfeit Lipitor, the cholesterol medicine that was the subject of a nationwide recall earlier this year.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

From the Harvard (MA) Hillside:
Lawmakers want to legalize filling of prescriptions in Canada
Hoping to curb the escalating cost of prescription drugs, state lawmakers are eyeing a plan that would make it legal for Massachusetts residents to buy their pharmaceuticals in Canada at a lower cost.

The plan would make it legal for seniors and sick people to travel to Canada and purchase prescription drugs that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or to buy the drugs from Canadian companies over the Internet.

Friday, August 15, 2003

From the Allston-Brighton (MA) Tab:
Massachusetts legislators move to import prescription drugs from Canada
Bill sponsors Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios, D-Cambridge, and Rep. Michael Festa, D-Melrose, joined Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, and Sen. Linda Melconian, D-Springfield, at a press conference detailing the specifics of a bill that has already launched Massachusetts into the national spotlight as the first state to use the free market in Canadian prescription drugs to save senior citizens, sick residents and the state hundreds of millions of dollar.
From the La Jolla (CA) Light:
Middleman locates prescription drugs in Canada
"My mom had open heart surgery three or four years ago," said Anthony Le, owner of the La Jolla Rx for Less on La Jolla Boulevard. "And our family members had to get together and pay for the medical costs. We were trying to find a cheaper way to get prescriptions, and we found it, through Canada."

Thursday, August 14, 2003

From the Acton (MA) Beacon:
Seniors urge legislators to pass change in prescription laws
"It does boggle your mind when you know you're paying twice as much for the same medication," Sokol said. "And for some seniors, this is a matter of life and death."

From The Hometown Channel (AR):
Court Issues Reprieve For Pharmacy Importing Drugs From Canada
An Arkansas-based pharmacy that helps patients pay less for prescription drugs will stay open, at least temporarily.

From WTOL-TV (OH):
The Cost Of Prescription Drugs
More help is on the way for seniors and others who are trying to save money on prescription drugs. The backers of a program aimed at helping those in our area cut costs had an update Wednesday on the effort which began about 6 months ago.

From the Westbury (NY) Times:
From the Desk of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy
AARP Joins McCarthy-Backed Rx Drug Importation Bill

Lower-Cost Medicines Within Sight for LI Seniors

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

From CBC News:
U.S. doctors call for Canadian-style health insurance
A group of 8,000 American doctors has called for a national health insurance system, saying heath care in the U.S. is collapsing.

'How many patients have to die from lack of health insurance?'

In a paper published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the physicians say the solution is to create a health insurance program administered by the government.

The doctors are going up against two of the most powerful lobbies in the U.S.: the insurance and the pharmaceutical industries.

From Families USA:
Out of Bounds: Rising Prescription Drug Prices for Seniors
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
The prices of the 50 most-prescribed drugs to senior citizens rose, on average, nearly three-and-one-half times the rate of inflation last year, according to a new report released today by Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.
From the Boston Globe:
FDA calls Springfield drug plan illegal, but stops short of action
McClellan said the FDA would welcome discussions with Springfield Mayor Michael Albano over the city's program. While not ruling out future legal action, he said the agency would simply urge Albano to take a path other than one that leads across international borders.

From WDIV-TV (MI):
Prescription Prices Have Local Company Under Scrutiny
A Canadian watchdog group wants a Livonia company to stop supplying low-cost prescriptions to Michigan patients.

From the Billerica (MA) Minuteman:
Legislators, seniors urge more disclosure of Canadian drug costs
Dorothy Sokol was one of nearly 45 senior citizens who took a 10-hour bus trip to Montreal last June to buy prescription drugs. She saved more than $600 and sent a message to the government to stop "dragging their feet" on adopting a cheaper method for buying prescription drugs.

From KPOM-TV (AR):
Rx Depot Gets Temporary Legal Relief in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has given a reprieve to a business that acts as liaison between consumers and cheaper medicines in Canada.

The high court on Monday put a hold on a temporary restraining order that would have closed the Tulsa-based business.

The move by Acting Chief Justice Ralph Hodges allows Rx Depot to stay open. An Oklahoma County judge had ordered the business closed by August 31st.

From the Detroit News:
Canada may stop drug sales to U.S.
Metro Detroiters who rely on Canadian doctors and pharmacies to supply them with affordable prescription drugs are facing obstacles put up by pharmaceutical giants and professional regulatory agencies that oppose the practice.

From Yahoo News:
Joe Montana in Novartis Blood Pressure Campaign
Montana has signed a two-year deal with Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG for an undisclosed sum to be frontman for its "Take the Pressure Off" hypertension awareness campaign, which kicks off this week, and to promote Novartis's blood pressure medicine Lotrel.

From CBC News:
Jean Coutu Group buys 2 Pharmasave drug stores in Toronto area, may buy more
Canada's second-biggest drug store chain said Wednesday it acquired the outlets from Pharmasave Drugs (National) Ltd., a Langley, B.C., company that is Canada's third-biggest pharmacy operator behind Jean Coutu and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The Pharmasave stores - in east-end Toronto and in Nobleton, Ont., northwest of Toronto -will be operated as Pharmasave franchises by Jean Coutu, the Quebec company said in a release.

From the Boston Herald:
Drug price policies hurt cos., gov says
Gov. Mitt Romney admonished drug industry executives yesterday to change the way they set prices, taking into consideration public opinion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

From WAFF-TV (Huntsville, AL):
Canadian Options for Prescription Drugs

The single mother says she has no idea how she'll pay for those pills she desperately needs.

"I bring in less than $2,000 a month. A pharmacist told me my prescriptions will be $975 per month. And I don't have it."

That's where Canadian options comes in. Retired pharmacist Don Copeland has joined with Dr. Thomas Griggs advising people, like Stephanie, on how to find the best prices on prescription drugs.

From the Bathurst (NS) Times & Transcript:
Pricey drugs still out of reach
Patients still waiting for N.B. gov’t to start paying for essential new medications.

From Reuters:
US approves new AstraZeneca cholesterol pill
Europe's AstraZeneca on Tuesday won U.S. approval to sell Crestor, a drug the company bills as the most potent cholesterol-fighter in a multibillion-dollar market.

The long-awaited approval from the Food and Drug Administration means AstraZeneca can start selling Crestor, its biggest new drug hope in the world's biggest market for medicines, within weeks.

Industry analysts estimate the drug's sales could eventually top $3 billion a year as it battles Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor, the world's top selling drug, and other medicines known as statins.
From CBC News:
NS authorities warn against buying from Net pharmacies
The College of Physicians and Surgeons in Nova Scotia is warning people against buying discount drugs over the Internet.

From the Washington Times:
Canadian online pharmacies vow to fight
Canadian Internet pharmacies are refusing to back down as big drug makers try to block exports of cut-price drugs from Canada.

From the Ottawa Citizen:
Why angry Americans are looking north
She's a white-haired American senior reminiscent of Granny Daisy Moses in The Beverly Hillbillies -- but with a fuming, mad-as-hell demeanour. And that image sends chills up the spines of the United States' biggest and most powerful drug companies.

Granny is a potent symbol in the current drug war between Canada's booming Internet pharmacies and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also known as PhRMA, the richest and most influential drug companies in the world.

From the Lowell (MA) Sun:
Bill would allow Mass. residents to buy prescription drugs in Canada
State lawmakers are considering a plan that would make it legal for seniors and sick people to buy prescription drugs in Canada, where they cost 20 to 80 percent less.

"We are moving to prevent our citizens from making tough decisions: 'Should I buy my dinner tonight, or should I save that money to pay for my prescriptions?' Nobody should be faced with that choice," said Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios, a Cambridge Democrat who sponsored the bill.

From the Boston Channel:
Romney Tells Pharmaceutical Companies To Recraft Drug Pricing
Gov. Mitt Romney advised pharmaceutical companies Tuesday to recraft their drug-pricing strategies and avoid exorbitant executive pay in order to help avert a crisis that is taxing state budgets and sending seniors to Canada to fill their prescriptions.

Speaking at the Drug Discovery Technology conference, the Republican governor reverted to his days as a corporate consultant, urging the industry to be more conscious of the public relations impact of their financial decisions.

Monday, August 11, 2003

From USA Today:
Foreign drugs meet a need that U.S. has ignored (Editorial)
The willingness of so many individuals — and last month, even the Springfield, Mass., municipal government — to defy a federal law against buying foreign drugs dramatizes the growing rebellion over a system that forces U.S. consumers to pay the highest drug prices in the world.

From the Boston Herald:
Drug info proposal faces high hurdles: Feds, litigation may block path to Canada
If consumers are forced to look outside of the country to buy drugs, the state should at least be able to guide them, say proponents of the plan led by state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios (D-Cambridge).

``It's only fair that these residents be provided the best information possible as to how they can save money and save money safely,'' Barrios said.
From the Boston Channel:
Lawmakers, Seniors Push For Legalizing Purchase Of Canadian Drugs
Massachusetts lawmakers and senior citizens on Monday called for the legalization of prescription drug purchases from Canada.

From Reuters:
AstraZeneca Plans U.S. Rollout of Crestor
AstraZeneca Plc, awaiting final U.S. marketing clearance this week for cholesterol fighter Crestor, said on Monday it planned a rapid rollout of its biggest new drug hope in the world's top market.

"It is going to be a matter of weeks rather than months," said Emily Denney, spokeswoman for Europe's second largest pharmaceutical company.

NOTE: Crestor is already available in Canada.
From CBC News:
Montana seeks to close Internet pharmacy 'broker'
Montana has filed a lawsuit against a company that helps Americans buy from Canadian Internet pharmacies.

The Montana Board of Pharmacy is seeking to close Rx Depot. It marks the first time an American state has moved against such a business.

From the Salt Lake (UT) Tribune:
A bitter pill
The price of life-sustaining prescription drugs has gotten so high for so many Americans that, while the government dithers, the marketplace has opened up a channel to Canada. Mail order and Internet connections to The Great White North bring essential medicines to your mailbox for up to 80 percent less than they cost at the neighborhood pharmacy.

Rather than address the underlying cause of this phenomenon -- staggering prices -- our nation's pharmaceutical makers are going all out to prevent wholesalers and pharmacies from importing these same medicines on a much larger scale at, perhaps, even greater discounts.
From the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press:
Minnesota in vanguard of U.S. drug-price battle
What's a nice group of senior citizens from "Lake Wobegon" up to, starting a venture that the U.S. government considers illegal and critics call dangerous?

For the Minnesota Senior Federation, it's part of a long-running fight to get lower-cost prescription drugs for the elderly: making an end-run around U.S. laws to bring mail-order drugs in from Canada, where they often cost half as much because Canada's government controls the prices.

From the Memphis (TN) Business Journal:
Re-importing could slow biotech efforts
European countries have price controls, yet research continues in Germany, France and elsewhere, though not with the intensity of American R&D.

"They have made tremendous contributions into the invention and introduction of new drugs," he says. "This seems to suggest the higher R&D in the U.S. has not really deprived Europeans from having new drugs from their own countries. The question is whether the higher extra spending by American companies has an edge over European countries."

Sunday, August 10, 2003

From American Medical News:
House drops FDA safeguards from drug reimportation bill
House passage of new drug reimportation legislation sets the stage for a clash with the Senate over safety concerns.

Both bodies earlier this summer included reimportation language in their visions of Medicare reform. Those provisions require the Food and Drug Administration to certify the safety of reimportation, something the agency has refused to do in the past.

But the new House bill would allow reimportation without requiring the FDA to certify the process. That language now supplants the earlier reimportation provision and has become the position of House lawmakers negotiating with the Senate on a final Medicare package.

From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Canadians really do pay half or a third as much for prescription drugs
A Sunday Gazette-Mail staffer recently checked the Internet to find out what her prescription drug would cost in Canada. To her surprise, she found that her 25 percent U.S. co-pay would almost buy the entire prescription in Canada.

From the Washington Post:
Policy Watch
Unhappy about Americans being forced to pay the world's highest drug prices, Congress seems determined to legalize cross-border trade, at least with Canada. In anticipation, drug companies have already begun to limit the quantity of each drug they are willing to ship to Canadian pharmacies, under the assumption that they won't fill U.S. prescriptions if they know there won't be enough for sick Canadians.

If that doesn't work, the drugmakers could ratchet up the pressure by raising Canadian prices closer to U.S. levels. If Canada's health plan refuses to pay the higher prices, the companies could refuse to sell some drugs. Canada could respond by invoking the compulsory licensing provision of trade law and authorize its generic-drug makers to produce patent-busting copies. Then the U.S. government would retaliate with trade sanctions. The back-and-forth would probably stop somewhere short of armed hostilities.

From the Battlesboro (VT) Reformer:
Sanders lobbies for drug imports
Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is making a feverish lobbying pitch this month to 53 senators, including Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who stand in the way of his crusade for drug re-importation from Canada.

Sanders, the first congressmen to lead constituents across the Canadian border more than a decade ago in search of cheaper prescription drugs, isn't sitting idly by during this month's congressional recess. He's been pleading with his Capitol Hill comrades from the other chamber to change their stance.

From the Lorain (OH) Morning Journal:
Prescription drug costs -- a bitter pill to swallow
Facing an unknown fate in the House is the Senate's drug re-importation bill that would allow U.S. pharmacies to resell drugs purchased from Canada, where a universal health system slashes prescription drug costs by as much as 50 percent.

Despite fierce opposition from drug makers, re-importing drugs was approved by the Republican-controlled Congress in October 2000. However, Democrats led by Daschle had opposed it and the Clinton administration refused to put the new law into effect.

From the Lorain (OH) Morning Journal:
Patents, research keep costs high
The five drugs that were most advertised direct to consumers in 2000 all became blockbusters in 2001: Vioxx, Zocor, heartburn reliever Prilosec, allergy reliever Claritin and anti-depressant Paxil.

The $160 million Merck spent that year advertising Vioxx was more than PepsiCo spent pitching Pepsi ($125 million) and Anheuser Busch spent hawking Budweiser ($146 million).

Each of the top seven most heavily advertised drugs topped Nike's $78 million ad budget for its shoes.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Canadian entrepreneurs find prescription for success
Three years ago, Rzepka and pharmacy school classmate Andrew Strempler burst open the door of a new industry, and now more than 150 firms are exploiting the regulatory crack separating Canadian and U.S. health systems.

These entrepreneurs helped create an industry that went from zero to more than $500 million in projected sales this year of patented drugs that would have cost Americans about $1 billion in the United States.

They've done it, earning handsome but undisclosed profits, by buying medicine in Canada at wholesale prices controlled by the government, and selling retail to retirees in America, where prices are not controlled.
From CBC Edmonton:
Internet pharmacies take another hit
"My heart breaks. Now I'm going to have to go back to little grandma and say 'I can't get your medication.' It's going to be horrible," Troszok said. He is also concerned his customers will turn to countries with high levels of counterfeit drugs. "If they go to the country that doesn't have the same regulations as Canada, their health could be compromised."

From the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle:
Schumer supports legislation that could cut prescription costs
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Rochesterians could save 50 percent on their drug costs if they were filled in Canada. For one of Gerling’s drugs, Celebrex, the savings is $71 a month.

Schumer was at Lifespan in Brighton on Thursday to promote legislation that he said would make it easier for people like Gerling to buy drugs from Canada. He also made appearances in Canandaigua to lend support to the veterans hospital there and in Livingston County to discuss bringing federal aid to dairy farmers and the region.

From the Canadian Press:
Transborder trade in drugs could lead to drug shortages, say industry groups
A growing transborder trade in cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals has drug manufacturers fighting back and worries some pharmacy groups.

Health Canada said it is watching the situation but sees no evidence that Canadians are being hurt.

But some see potential dangers if more and more Americans look to Canadian pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. They say it could exacerbate a shortage of pharmacists in Canada and perhaps lead to drug shortages here.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Mont. Moves to Halt Canada Drugs by Mail
State regulators in Montana have filed suit against Rx Depot to close the Billings storefront of the mail-order company that arranges to bring discounted prescription medicines from Canada.

The Montana Board of Pharmacy filed suit last week in District Court in Helena seeking the depot's immediate closure. The business is violating a variety of state and federal laws designed to protect consumers, the lawsuit alleges.

From the Oxford (OH) Press:
Pharmacy Board official speaks against county plan
A segment of Butler County's new prescription drug program which provides an avenue for people to get discounted drugs from Canada has the executive director of the Ohio Pharmacy Board crying foul.

In a letter to Butler County Commission President Michael Fox, Ohio Pharmacy Board Executive Director William Winsley said the importation of prescription drugs from Canada violates state and federal laws.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
U.S. wants Internet drug stores offline
"We've certainly looked at it to make sure the Internet pharmacies comply with Canadian law. And as far as Health Canada is concerned, they do."

From the Edmonton Journal:
Signing for a fee: Doctors in the drug trade
Few medical practices are more secretive: A handful of doctors across Canada co-sign millions of prescriptions each year for American patients they never meet, earning lucrative fees for their efforts.

The practice is big business. Without those co-signing Canadian doctors, Canada's Internet pharmacies could not exist.

From the Akron Beacon Journal:
Get cheaper drugs, easier
People who are shopping around for cheaper prescription drugs are finding deals at a surprising place: Their local mall.

Businesses that help consumers buy medications from Canada for less than domestic prices have been springing up across the country in the past year or two, even though they're technically illegal.

Now they're becoming such a part of mainstream America that they can be found in mall storefronts and kiosks near the Gap and Starbucks.

From the Washington Times:
Storefronts offering low-priced drugs from Canada
Diane Dewar, weary of federal promises to combat the rising cost of prescription drugs, last week ordered hers from an organization that helps import the goods from Canada and delivers them for about half of what she would pay in the United States.

From the New Philadelphia (OH) Times Reporter:
Ohio stores order drugs from Canada
Instead of traveling to Canada to buy cheaper prescription drugs, some Ohioans are turning to stores that order medicine to be shipped over the border.

At No Borders USA, which opened in April in the Parmatown Mall in suburban Parma, customers bring in their prescriptions and the store orders the medicines from a pharmacy in Calgary, Alberta.

From the Ottawa Citizen:
Montana officials file suit to halt ordering of Canadian drugs by mail
State regulators in Montana have filed suit against Rx Depot to close the Billings storefront of the mail-order company that arranges to bring discounted prescription medicines from Canada.

The Montana Board of Pharmacy filed suit last week in District Court in Helena seeking the depot's immediate closure. The business is violating a variety of state and federal laws designed to protect consumers, the lawsuit alleges.

From the Montana Forum:
Cheaper drugs from Canada forbidden here
Retiree Zenda Koch wasn’t about to starve, but it was getting harder to pay up to $250 a month for the medications she needs to control a variety of ailments, including arthritis.

The 58-year-old Billings retiree had built up some savings, but her account was draining quickly. She cut down her cable bill, then stopped going to movies and began limiting her gasoline consumption. She also stopped going to the dentist.

Not long ago, relief blew in like a cool north wind. A new business in Billings is helping her get the drugs she needs from a pharmacy in Canada, but at a dramatic discount. She recently obtained a three month supply for $210.

Friday, August 08, 2003

From Reuters:
AARP Steps Into Drug Re-Importation Debate
The biggest U.S. lobby for seniors sought to rally support on Thursday to legalize the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada, where regulation makes them cheaper.

The 35 million-member AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, hosted a town meeting with lawmakers in Chicago a day after Pfizer Inc. threatened to cut supplies to Canadian pharmacists that ship the world's biggest drug maker's products to U.S. consumers.

"If it's same drug and it saves money, why not?" asked Aaron Crosby, whose wife, Kathleen, age 70, takes 15 different medications including Pfizer's own arthritis drugs Celebrex and anticonvulsant Neurontin. "These drug prices are too cotton-picking high."

The AARP, a lobbying powerhouse, blasted the steep climb in prescription drug prices in the United States. The pharmaceutical industry, which also lobbies heavily in Washington, says it needs to charge higher prices in the United States to recoup research costs for new drugs. Most other nations more tightly regulate the price of drugs.

From the Barre Montpelier (VT) Times Argus:
Sanders rips Pfizer on Canadian cutoff
"They are literally going to war with elderly and chronically ill people in this country who simply cannot afford to pay the high prices Pfizer is charging,” Sanders said. “Clearly there will be a deterioration in health for many, and some will die. What Pfizer is saying is ‘It’s more important for us to make million of dollars.’”

"The objective of us having more customers as direct clients is for us to better enforce our terms of sale, which are that our products are only to be sold in Canada for Canadian patients and that they are not for export," said Don Sancton, a spokesman for Pfizer Canada Inc.

From the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger:
Canadian pharmacies eye lawsuit
A decision on filing a lawsuit hasn't been made, according to an official with the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. He said the group is concerned drug makers are undertaking an industrywide campaign that is unfair and designed to hurt their businesses.

From the Toronto Star:
Pfizer cuts drug supplies to cross-border sellers
This is clearly a reaction to the passage of the legislation," said Jillian Clare Cohen, assistant professor in the University of Toronto's faculty of pharmacy. "What they're trying to say is, `Fine, politically this is palatable, so how can we practically address this issue that cuts into our most profitable market.'"

From WOOD-TV (MI):
Pfizer warns Canadian drug suppliers to buy direct
"We've got people in America who are dying because they can't afford drugs because the drug companies are greedy when it comes to American consumers," says Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Holland. He says companies like Pfizer benefit from government subsidies for research, manufacture their drugs overseas and then hit the same tax payers who helped subsidize those programs with higher prices.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:
U.S. drug boycott threat called 'ridiculous'
It's inconceivable that multinational drug companies will stop shipping pharmaceuticals to Canada as part of a political battle to break the back of Canadian Internet pharmacies that supply American consumers, industry sources say.

"These [drug] companies have Canadian patents and if they stop selling or if significant shortages of patented products crop up, the Canadian government can step in and have a generic drug maker supply that product."

From the National Post:
U.S. drug firms set to boycott Canada
U.S.-based drug companies may halt their sales to Canada to prevent Canadian companies from selling U.S.-manufactured pharmaceuticals back into the United States at steep discounts, according to U.S. industry representatives and health care experts.

From the Canadian Press:
Transborder trade in drugs could lead to drug shortages, say industry groups
A growing transborder trade in cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals has drug manufacturers fighting back and worries some pharmacy groups.

Health Canada said it is watching the situation but sees no evidence that Canadians are being hurt.

But some see potential dangers if more and more Americans look to Canadian pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. They say it could exacerbate a shortage of pharmacists in Canada and perhaps lead to drug shortages here.

From CBC Manitoba:
Major drug company restricts shipments to Canada
Chief pharmacist Darren Jorgenson for CanadaMeds, an online pharmacy based in Winnipeg, says many internet pharmacies are now at risk of shutting down and he's worried about that could mean for his American customers.

"Many of our patients can't afford the prices that these companies charge for their medications in the U.S., so often they go without," he says. "This move will just increase the difficulty these patients are going to have in obtaining the medications they need."

From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:
Pfizer takes aim at resale of drugs
A recent survey of seven countries, including Canada and the United States, showed that U.S. drug prices were 67 per cent higher than those in Canada.

However, Canadian prices aren't out of line with other countries in the study.

From The Advocate:
Online drugstore offers Canadian prices to U.S. gays and lesbians
Developed specifically to cater to gays and lesbians in the United States who seek cheaper prescription medications from Canada, a new online pharmacy opened this month that allows American consumers to buy drugs from across the border at a fraction of their U.S. cost.

From Pioneer Press Online (IL):
Wheeling store brings cheaper Canada medicines to area
"One woman who called heard how much she was going to pay and was amazed at the cost difference," Hoska said. "It's fabulous to do something that brings help and joy to someone."

From the Wayland (MA) Town Crier:
To save on meds, a fax to Canada
To save money on her prescription medications, Barbara Druvins said she traveled to the library, senior center and local pharmacy before locating a fax machine she could use to order her drugs from Canada.

Druvins, 66, of Hopkinton, attended a Council of Aging meeting yesterday in Town Hall trying to decide whether it is easier to take a bus to a Worcester prescription drug center or search all over town for a fax machine that wasn't busy.
From the New York Times:
Pfizer Moves to Stem Canadian Drug Imports

Just days after the House of Representatives voted to legalize the import of cheap prescription drugs from Canada, Pfizer has moved to squelch the nascent trade at its source.

The company confirmed yesterday that it had sent letters to 50 Canadian pharmacies that it believes are exporting to the United States, telling them that they would have to begin ordering their drugs directly from Pfizer, rather than from wholesalers. If Pfizer decides that the pharmacies are ordering more drugs than they need to meet Canadian demand, it will cut off or curtail shipments to them, the company said.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Pfizer Moves to Block Canadian Drug Sales
``Effective immediately, Pfizer Canada Inc. has elected to supply you with Pfizer products directly and exclusively,'' according to letters sent Monday by the Canadian units of Pfizer and Pharmacia Inc., which Pfizer bought last year.

From the Canadian Press:
U.S. drug giant Pfizer tries to stop sales by Canadian druggists to Americans
In a letter sent to nearly 50 Canadian pharmacies, Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical maker, said those pharmacies would be able to buy Pfizer products only from the company. "We've sent a letter to less than 50 pharmacies in Canada saying that we want them to be direct customers of ours," Don Sancton, Pfizer Canada spokesman, said Wednesday night.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

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From Yahoo News:
Pfizer to Restrict Drug Sales to U.S. from Canada
Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drugmaker, said on Wednesday it will cut off supplies of its products to any Canadian pharmacy that sells drugs at a discount to consumers in the United States.

The New York company, following a trend begun by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, told pharmacists in a letter dated Aug. 4 that it will sell all drugs produced by Pfizer and its recently acquired subsidiary, Pharmacia, directly rather than through wholesalers and distributors.

From Bloomberg:
Pfizer Cuts Drug Channel to 50 Canadian Pharmacies
Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, cut off supplies through wholesalers to 50 Canadian pharmacies that sell its medicines to U.S. consumers for less than the company charges in its home market.

New York-based Pfizer told the companies in letters that they must purchase top-selling medicines such as the Viagra impotence pill directly from the drugmaker. The stores were buying from wholesalers and shipping some orders to the U.S.

From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:
Pfizer targets drug sales to U.S., report says
A report says drug giant Pfizer Inc. will control its supplies to Canadian pharmacies in an effort to control sales of the cheaper drugs to the United States.

Reuters says the company wrote to pharmacists, saying the company will bypass wholesalers and distributers when it sells treatments.

From News 12 Westchester, CT:
Lawmakers join prescription drug fight
Two local lawmakers are looking to help bring the cost of prescription drugs down by proposing federal legislation that would allow medication to be brought into the U.S. from Canada.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) announced their plan Wednesday at the White Plains Senior Center.
From the Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune:
Whose drugs are unsafe?
The pharmaceutical industry has argued for years that lives will be endangered if Congress allows U.S.- made drugs to be reimported from Canada and Europe and sold at lower prices to consumers in the United States. The foreign supply line simply cannot be protected against tampering and neglect, says the industry.

But a few weeks ago, Americans received an alarming bit of news about the security of the supply line here at home -- 19 people were indicted by a Florida grand jury on charges of peddling fake and watered-down drugs.

Prosecutors say some of medicine, including drugs for AIDS and cancer patients, found its way into well- known chain drugstores like Walgreens and Eckerd. The indictments resulted from a state investigation of dozens of drug wholesalers.

From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:
Canada's drug policies 'parasitic,' U.S. says
The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is accusing Canada of being "parasitic" in its drug policies that he believes keep drug prices lower here than in the United States.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

From Business Week:
An Odd Quiet over Rx Imports
A Native American trading post offers apparently illegal drugs from Canada at deep discounts. Yet, the feds aren't rushing to intervene.

From Business Week:
Drugs: Why Do Americans Pay More?
Congress' push to undercut high prices by allowing Rx imports may fade under pressure from Big Pharma -- but consumer ire won't.
From the Deseret (UT) News:
Drug reimportation too risky
By Sen. Orrin G. Hatch. Hatch is Utah's senior U.S. senator.

From the Deseret (UT) News:
Drugs more costly in U.S. because of FDA process
I ask you which is preferable: a life-saving drug at a high cost or no life-saving drug at all? Americans would be much better served by trying to do something about FDA's costly approval process.
From the Toledo (OH) Blade:
Livonia club catches eye of feds, seniors
Mr. Slater and another employee were in a small office building and had set up computers and a hodgepodge of folding metal chairs and other seats for those who wanted to wait.

And wait they did. At 3 p.m. yesterday, about 20 people, some of whom had been there for hours, were waiting to be seen by Mr. Slater and his colleague.

Two shop phones were ringing constantly. In between entering information into a computer and talking on the phone, Mr. Slater expressed amazement at the interest.

From the Milford (MA) Daily News:
Pols propose supplying consumers with drug prices in Canada
Some Massachusetts lawmakers say the state should publicize drug prices in Canada to help consumers save money and find the best deals.

Under proposed legislation, Bay State residents would be able to contact a state office by telephone or Internet to find out how and where they can save the most money on prescription medications.

Drug Reimportation Increases Medical Freedom
Reimportation is hardly a solution to our health care woes, of course, and the bill faces a highly uncertain future in the Senate. Reimportation would, however, inject a tiny measure of freedom into our increasingly regulated health care system. No American should ever enjoy less freedom by virtue of living in the U.S., and no American should be forced to pay higher prices for drugs that are available more cheaply overseas. The ban on reimportation is unconscionable, and most Americans know it despite the best efforts of the pharmaceutical companies and their mouthpieces.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Prescription Drug Coverage Key Issue In Congress
House and Senate negotiators expect long and difficult negotiations over a final version of the bill because major differences need to be resolved.

From the Billings (MT) Gazette:
Mass. lawmakers propose informing consumers of drug prices in Canada
A group of Massachusetts lawmakers have proposed publicizing the prices of prescription drugs in Canada to help consumers find the best deals.

Under proposed legislation, residents would be able to contact a state office to find out how and where they can save the most money on medications in Canada.

"The state could and should be the information broker," said state Democratic Sen. Jarrett Barrios, vice chairman of the Senate Health Care Committee. "We'd provide as much information as people need, and let them make the best cost decision as well as the safest decisions."
From the Boca Raton (FL) News:
Experts spark greater use of generic drugs
As the cost of brand name prescription drugs continues to soar, doctors, the government and HMOs are making an increasingly convincing case for buying generic drugs instead. Medical authorities point to studies which conclude that Americans can save an estimated $10 billion per year by opting to purchase the equivalent of a brand name drug.

From the National Post:
U.S. city buys its medicine from Canada
Wayne Lepine, manager of pharmaceutical policy at Health Canada: "We don't have any position on what American residents, or cities for that matter, do with respect to acquiring drugs. I think the issue is one for the Americans to adress."

From the St. Petersburg (FL) Times:
Lawmakers playing catchup on cheaper foreign drug sales, retirees say
Just before 3 a.m. Friday, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives bucked a torrent of lobbying by drugmakers, the Food and Drug Administration and the Bush administration to pass a bill that gives Americans the go-ahead to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and Europe.

Winifred McConnell of Clearwater was not impressed.

"I think they're a little late," said the 83-year-old retiree, who has been buying her drugs from Canada for about a year, saving hundreds of dollars. "As long as the Canadian company does a good job and their prices are better, I'm going to do business with them."

From the Boston Globe:
Canada fills prescriptions for Springfield employees
''Our health care costs have spiraled and we've been looking at new ways to contain costs,'' Albano said. ''I'm hopeful we'll serve as a model for the nation and get the attention of Congress.''

From the Kansas City Star:
Illegal or not, drug buys via Canada are thriving
Most contend re-importation will grow no matter what Congress does, as long as the market exists.

"This has a certain inevitability to it that they're not going to be able to stop," said Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, an AFL-CIO-associated group that sponsors bus trips to Canada from Northern border states. "Of course, none of this would be necessary if we had decent prescription drug coverage in this country."
From the Lakeland (FL) Ledger:
Crossing the Drug Border
Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., sees things differently than Putnam. His view is significant because Berry is the only pharmacist in the House. "The safety claims are bogus," Berry said during the fierce House debate. "This is a classic, cynical example of crony capitalism."

He said members who voted against the bill should go back home and tell their constituents, " `I voted to let the pharmaceutical industry continue to rob the old people in this country.' You go back and tell them that."

From the Boston Herald:
Lawmaker wants drug price cap
``We must take a stance against the greed of pharmaceutical giants,'' said Glodis, Insurance Committee co-chairman. ``There is no logical reason why the citizens of Massachusetts should be charged signficantly more for the same prescription drugs than the citizens of Canada.''

From the Lorain (OH) Morning Journal:
Seniors head north for cheaper medicine
Of all world's the large markets, the United States is the only one that doesn't control prices, which leads critics of the brand-name pharmaceutical industry to say U.S. consumers are in effect subsidizing the rest of the world's lower priced prescription drugs.

''I understand that research for new drugs is quite expensive,'' said Berman. ''But why should Americans have to cover the burden for the rest of the world, why does it cost more for us to keep ourselves healthy?''
From the Ohio News Network:
State Official Objects To County’s Drug Discount Program

A state official is objecting to the portion of Butler County's new prescription drug program that tells people how to get cheap drugs from Canada.

The contract to implement the main part of the program - discount drugs for the poor - went to Patient Assistance Services for $50,000. That company also offers a different program providing discounted medications to all income levels from Canada.

From the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger:
Drug makers weigh quotas to Canadian wholesalers
Drug makers could limit shipments to Canadian wholesalers if Congress makes it easier for Americans to buy cheaper medicines from Canada, according to people whose organizations deal with the pharmaceutical industry.

Their prediction reflects controversial moves made this year by three big drug makers -- GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Wyeth -- to reduce supplies to their wholesalers in Canada.

By doing so, the pharmaceutical industry may find a way to blunt the effects of the so-called reimportation legislation. The measure would allow drugs to be reimported from Canada and other countries at prices well below what they cost in the United States.

From the Boca Raton (FL) News:
Outlet lowers cost of American drugs
As alternative to buying from Canada, new Boca retailer promotes generic prescription drugs it says are less expensive.

From CBC Manitoba:
American companies look north for prescription drugs
Springfield Mayor Michael Albano says the cheaper Canadian drugs will allow his city to save between $4 million and $9 million a year.

"It's a dollar that we can't pass up," says Albano. "The service is the same. The FDA is trying to say that they won't necessarily approve it because there may be safety concerns of doing business with a foreign country. I've been to Canada. I've looked at the process. I've looked at the procurement. It's fine."

From the Queens (NY) Chronicle:
A Conduit To Discount Drugs—FH Business Offers Route Up North To Reduced Rx
“It’s really nice to have a job where you make a living and help people at the same time,” Weissman said. “It doesn’t happen all the time.”

The two entrepreneurs entered into the pharmaceutical business quite inauspiciously. Robinson was visiting his aunt and uncle in Florida and learned that they were saving as much as $5,000 per year by utilizing the services of re-importers, a popular field in the senior-driven state.

Seeing an opportunity for big business and a wide-open marketplace, Robinson and Weissman joined forces to open, what they believe, is the city’s first reimporting business.

From the Redding (CA) Record-Searchlight:
Buying foreign drugs backed
Technically, Weaverville pharmacist Stephen Fisk is skirting the law. But it's a law he wouldn't mind seeing changed.

Fisk, who owns the Trinity Professional Pharmacy, helps about 250 cash-strapped rural residents obtain low-cost prescription medicines from a Canadian distributor.

From the San Fransisco Chronicle:
How to make medicine worse (Editorial)
For many Americans, the bathroom medicine chest is the most expensive place in the house. Open the door, and the shelves are lined with prescription drugs that cost from 30 to 80 percent less in other major countries that control drug prices.

Thrifty souls, mostly seniors with sizable pillboxes, visit Canada and Mexico by the busload to stock up. Although bringing back drugs is illegal, there has never been a major crackdown
From WDIV-TV (MI):
Livonia Drug Club Could Be Courting FDA Problems
Detroiters who have been taking the bus to Canada to get a break on the high cost of their prescriptions will now only have to travel to Six Mile and Middlebelt in Livonia for those same low prices. They can reportedly save as much as 90 percent compared to the price of similar drugs sold in the United States.

From the Contra Costa (CA) Times:
House drug-import proposal not likely to survive Senate
Health-policy watchers say the proposal, which passed 243-186 last month over the House leadership's opposition, is unlikely to survive a House-Senate conference and become law.

Robert Hayes, the president of the Medicare Rights Center, a patients' advocacy group in New York, doesn't think the dangers (of reimportation) are real.

"At worst, you have a remote speculative danger when you reimport," he said. "On the other hand, every day there is a clear and present danger for people who don't take their prescribed drugs because they can't afford them."

From the Boston Globe:
Canada drug prices a lure
A group of Massachusetts lawmakers, eager to deliver cheaper prescription drugs to senior citizens, wants the state to help them shop around for the best bargains -- in Canada.

The lawmakers are looking to make the Bay State the first in the nation to publicize prices available in Canada, and to help consumers order drugs from retailers there. Any resident would be able to contact a state office by telephone or the Internet to find out how and where they can save the most money on medications, under legislation the lawmakers are crafting.

From the Detroit News:
Cheaper drugs hit state
An unassuming storefront will open Monday as a spot for consumers to buy prescription drugs at Canadian prices, which can be as much as 40 percent to 90 percent cheaper than the same or similar drugs sold in the United States.

But the federal Food and Drug Administration warns that the store is illegal because federal law does not allow U.S. importation of drugs to individuals.

From the Hilton Head (SC) Island Packet:
Business helps skirt drug prices
McDaniel said she'll stay at it as long as she can. There are plenty of people on fixed incomes who can't afford the ever-rising cost of drugs.

"Until they come in and padlock the door, we feel we're providing a service," she said.

Even if she is shut down, McDaniel said she has already served a greater good by making people aware of the issue.

"I feel really good about what I'm doing," McDaniel said. "I don't lose one minute of sleep about it. I really don't."

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Bogus drugs a growing threat
This article discusses the chain of supply for medications, from manufacturer to wholesaler to pharmacy. Counterfeit medications often enter the system through small wholesalers and repackagers. There are only a few large wholesalers in Canada and there are no repackagers at all.

"Nevada declared open season on unscrupulous brokers and wholesalers. It weeded out businesses working out of rented trucks, rental storage units, and other suspect sites, including one that would accept deliveries at a pizza parlor located in the same strip mall. "

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
State questions drug program
The Ohio Attorney General's Office says Butler County has ventured into a legally questionable area by promoting a Canadian prescription drug discount program.

The county contracted with a private company, Prescription Relief in Marion, Ohio, to provide a program that will give low-income people who are not on Medicaid access to prescription drugs at a small charge.

The county also is promoting in its pamphlets and Web site three other programs offered by the company. One of them is the Canadian discount drug program.

From the Montreal Gazette:
MD faces hearing over Net business
A South Shore physician has become the first Quebec doctor to face a disciplinary hearing for taking part in an Internet pharmacy business.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
City eyeing Canada drug plan
Yesterday, Pittsfield City Councilor at large Peter G. Arlos called for Pittsfield to mimic the move, which has also garnered interest from representatives on the city's Health Insurance Advisory Board.

Arlos said the city may be able to save as much as 80 percent on some drugs that its employees use, which would provide relief to the city's health insurance budget, which this year cost Pittsfield $12.7 million and is expected to increase next year.