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.

No comments: