Tuesday, September 30, 2003

From the Portales (NM) News Tribune:
Pharmacies persuaded to stop cheap prescriptions
State pharmaceutical officials have persuaded the Portales Medical Center to stop purchasing low-priced prescription drugs from Canadian drug companies via a Texas storefront.

From the Boston Globe:
Cahill calls drug protest `bad idea'
State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill tried yesterday to dampen enthusiasm in Springfield for Mayor Michael Albano's proposed divestiture of US drug company stocks, branding it an ill-advised "political statement" that could hurt the city's pension fund.

From IDG.com:
FDA's McClellan calls for more drug R&D cost sharing
The U.S. is bearing a disproportionate share of drug research and development costs for medicines used globally at the same time that price controls in other industrialized nations are leading more U.S. residents to obtain unregulated drugs elsewhere, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner (FDA) Dr. Mark McClellan said last Thursday.

From the Canadian Press:
Martin endorses plan to supply generic AIDS drugs to poor countries
The federal government will proceed full-steam ahead in allowing generic drug-makers to supply cheap medicine to AIDS-ravaged countries, Paul Martin indicated Tuesday.
From the Twin Cities (MN) Business Journal:
Hatch criticizes pharmaceutical industry; files lawsuit
Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch on Tuesday announced legal action against GlaxoSmithKline, the world's second largest drug manufacturer, and issued a report detailing alleged abuses by the pharmaceutical industry in general.

Hatch wants GlaxoSmithKline, based in Philadelphia, to produce documents regarding an alleged threat of a boycott of Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies if they sell medication to Minnesotans.

From WCCO (MN):
Hatch Joins In Criticism Of Pharmaceutical Industry
Attorney General Mike Hatch has become the latest Minnesota office holder to blast the pharmaceutical industry, which he accuses of leveraging political influence to artificially boost profits.

Calling the industry "the other drug cartel," Hatch complains in a report released Tuesday that it uses public funds to develop new drugs and then uses its profits to hire lobbyists to fight industry regulation and price controls.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Mass. City Looks to Protest Drug Costs
The mayor proposed Tuesday that the city's employee pension fund sell its $6 million investment in pharmaceutical stocks, escalating Springfield's protest of high prescription drug costs.

``It's a small amount of money, but it could send a big message to Wall Street and Washington that prescription drug prices have to be lowered,'' Mayor Michael Albano said. Pharmaceutical stocks are about 2.6 percent of the city's $223 million pension fund.

From the Alameda (CA) Times Star:
Storefront selling Canadian drugs shuts down operation
A storefront in San Leandro that sold prescription drugs from Canada to hundreds of Bay Area seniors abruptly closed Friday, citing financial concerns.

The American Drug Club of Oakland will be run via fax and Internet until another storefront operator can be found, according to a company spokesman.

From the Canadian Press:
Arthritis rates climbing, treatment lagging, says Health Canada report
Arthritis afflicts nearly four million Canadians - or 16 per cent of the population - and the rates are climbing steadily, says a major report on the disease.

Two thirds of the victims are women and nearly three out of five are younger than 65, says the study released Tuesday by Health Canada. It says the impact of the disease has been underestimated, and that victims have trouble getting access to the drugs and treatments they need.
From the New York Times:
F.D.A. Faults Quality of Imported Drugs
Most imported drugs are counterfeit knockoffs that could seriously endanger the health of those taking them, say federal drug and customs officials who conducted a spot inspection over the summer that they disclosed yesterday.

The inspection "illustrates the real and serious public health risks created by the importation of unapproved drugs," said Mark B. McClellan, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

William K. Hubbard, an associate F.D.A. commissioner, added that proposals in Congress to legalize drug imports "would open up the floodgates to many of these drugs and would encourage folks with the government's imprimatur to buy drugs that nobody has any regulatory authority over."

From the Washington Post:
FDA Steps Up Enforcement on Drug Imports
As a growing number of governors say they intend to defy federal regulators and purchase lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, the Bush administration is pushing back, stepping up its enforcement actions against what it describes as "illegal and potentially dangerous" shipments from abroad.

From the Washington Post:
The Great Pharmacy To the North
Roland and Carolyn Watson of Towson, Md., didn't know they were getting into a war when they bought prescription drugs from a pharmacist in Canada, but that's the only way they can afford the drug Carolyn needs for her Parkinson's disease. Instead of a drug benefit under Medicare, the Watsons have the Buy Canada Drug Plan.

Monday, September 29, 2003

From the Boston Globe:
Springfield mayor urges fiscal strike at drug companies
Mayor Michael Albano plans to ask the Springfield Retirement Board as early as tomorrow to sell all the city pension investments in drug stocks, representing about $6 million, or 2.6 percent of the $223 million fund. The action is justified, Albano said, by the behavior of US drug companies, which he accused of manipulating markets to protect high prices in the United States.

From News 24 Houston:
High prescription costs have Americans looking north
At times it looks like the average American pharmacy, but it isn't. The prescription drugs sold are Canadian.

From the Northwest (IL) Herald:
Franks files new drug bill
State Rep. Jack Franks wants to give residents access to information about purchasing cheaper prescription drugs in Canada and other countries.

Franks, D-Woodstock, filed a bill Friday in the Illinois House of Representatives that would allow state agencies to educate the public on purchasing drugs from foreign countries, particularly Canada. Although federal law prohibits ordering prescription drugs from other countries through the mail or Internet, residents can travel abroad and bring drugs back to the United States.

From the Capital Times (WI):
Editorial: States can cut drug costs
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle should follow the leads of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and begin figuring out how state health programs can cut costs by purchasing drugs from Canada.

From Reuters:
FDA Finds Hundreds of Unapproved Drug Imports
Lawmakers who are working to create a legal system for importing drugs from Canada and some other countries have accused the FDA of exaggerating the safety risk. Some suggest the agency is pushing the agenda of the drug industry, which is vigorously fighting drug importation.

"For more than two months, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan and his senior leadership have tried to undermine a legislative initiative the American people desperately want and need," Rep. Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican who wrote a drug-import bill that passed the House in July, said in a statement on Monday.

From the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger:
Counterfeit drug spur calls for a crackdown
More than 900 companies are licensed with the state health department to distribute drugs or other medical items, but the registration process is riddled with holes, interviews with state officials and experts and a review of state documents show.

Companies can pay as little as $200 and check a few boxes on a six-page form to be licensed to distribute drugs that ultimately wind up on pharmacy shelves.

Once a distributor is licensed, it need only pay an annual fee to renew that license. Distributors are not required to disclose if they are selling different products.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

From the Iowa City Press Citizen:
Canadian drug study could affect 5,000 UI workers
Importing prescription drugs from Canada could generate substantial savings for area workers if the federal government lifts a ban prohibiting the importation of medications, a local official said Wednesday.

From the Northwest (IL) Herald:
Area officials support state drug proposal
McHenry County officials said they would investigate purchasing Canadian drugs if Gov. Rod Blagojevich succeeds in his push to lift the ban on the practice.

Blagojevich is lobbying the Food and Drug Administration to lift its ban on governments purchasing drugs from Canada.

Private health-care providers are free to reimburse U.S. citizens for buying Canadian drugs, but governments cannot buy the drugs for their facilities or reimburse their employees for such purchases.
From the Portland (ME) Press Herald:
Drug debate rages as more head to Canada
On July 1, the city of Springfield, Mass., started buying drugs from Canada for municipal workers and retirees, in order to save millions of dollars through lower prices and a favorable exchange rate. The city estimates it could save $4 million a year, depending on how many of the 9,000 who are eligible participate in the voluntary program.

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Pawlenty backs Canadian drug imports
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty jumped into the ongoing debate over prescription drugs Wednesday by asking top state officials to explore giving all Minnesotans access to cheaper Canadian drugs.

Minnesota is on the "edge of a health care crisis," he said, and the state must try to lead the nation back from the brink. "The current model cannot be sustained."

From the Duluth (MN) News Tribune:
Pawlenty, Gutknecht talk prescription drugs on radio
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Congressman Gil Gutknecht teamed up Friday on two radio shows to push the idea of importing lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada or other countries.

Minnesota is one of three states looking into the possibility and the only state led by a Republican governor.
From the Amarillo (TX) Globe News:
State to order city store to close
The Texas State Board of Pharmacy will issue a letter within days to shut down Canada Drug Services of West Texas, officials at the state agency said Thursday.

The storefront business on Civic Circle opened two weeks ago and has distributed letters stating that prescriptions can be faxed by doctors or brought in by patients to the Wolflin Square office, said franchise owner Herman Harrell.

From the Boston Globe:
A retired insurance man and drug kingpin, of sorts
As he drove across Ohio, the Canadian drug importer G. Anthony Howard reveled in his newfound outlaw status. He was riding with his son, Robert, and an associate, Joseph Todd, all participants in the drug business, all the subject of cease-and-desist letters from the US Food and Drug Administration.

From the Iowa City Press Citizen:
Pharmacy college director discusses Canadian drugs
This week's Q&A is with Jordan Cohen, dean of the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.

From the Rutland (VT) Herald:
Seniors hit road to buy medicine
Melvyn and Fern Pylka spent the sunshine hours of their wedding anniversary last week on a charter bus, hoping to toast their 48 years together with a nice, big price break on Fosamax, a popular drug to treat osteoporosis.

From the Hibbing (MN) Daily Tribune:
Pensioners buying Canadian drugs
For many Iron Range retirees faced with reduced pensions and discontinued health insurance, turning to Canada for prescription drugs has been one way of dealing with the financial crunch.

Pam Thompson, a retired National Steel employee from Hibbing, said she decided to look into ordering drugs over the Internet after her health insurance was discontinued at the end of July. Thompson, who is waiting to make her first order jointly with a friend so she can reduce shipping charges, said she expects to save more than 60 percent on the price of one medication.

From the Blue Springs (MO) Examiner:
Canada drugs
Desperate for affordable prescription drugs, many people are turning to Canada, where price controls allow the exact same drugs to be purchased at a price up to 80 percent less than those bought in the United States.

Highly publicized bus trips have been crossing the Canadian border for several years, filled with people willing to drive up to 1,000 miles just to buy the prescription drugs they need at lower prices.

From the Omaha Channel:
Rx Depot Ignoring Court Order To Shut Down
An Rx Depot of Canada store continues doing business in Lincoln two weeks after the U.S. Justice Department ordered the stores to close. Rx Depot helps customers buy price-controlled prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies. More elderly and self-employed people have turned to the stores in the wake of climbing U.S. prescription-drug prices. Rx Depot says customers usually save 30 percent or more versus getting prescriptions filled at a pharmacy in the United States.

From the Lincoln (IL) Courier:
Canadian drug plan hits road block
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to try to persuade Congress and the Bush administration to allow states and local governments to buy lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada.

But he was met with substantial opposition from the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Yorkville, who cited a range of concerns, including consumer safety.

From the Daily Illini (IL):
Blagojevich joining fight over prescription drug costs
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has brought the issue of prescription drug price disparity between the U.S. and Canada to the forefront of the political scene.

Earlier this week he called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reverse its policy on importing drugs from Canada to allow Illinois residents to import them.

"This is an opportunity to help people and tax payers in Illinois to save millions of dollars," said Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for Blagojevich.

From the Calgary Herald:
From law school to drug store giant
In barely a decade, University of Alberta law school grad Daryl Katz has assembled the seventh-largest drugstore retailer in North America, with annual sales of roughly $6 billion from 1,700 outlets across Canada and the U.S.

Through its nine retail banners -- seven in Canada, two in the U.S. -- Edmonton-based Katz Group Inc. has vaulted past Shoppers Drug Mart and Jean Coutu Group to become Canada's biggest pharmacy operator.

Friday, September 26, 2003

From the Brainerd (MN) Dispatch:
State may look north for cheaper prescription drugs
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday asked the state's health and human services commissioner to look into importing drugs from Canada or other countries.

The directive follows a similar move by Illinois earlier this month, but Minnesota officials are casting a wider net.

While Illinois is only considering allowing state employees and retirees to import the drugs, Pawlenty is eyeing the imported drugs for state employees and those on public assistance.

From the Boston Channel:
Push On To Let Patients Buy Canadian Drugs
Despite continued opposition from the Bush administration and Congressional leaders, pressure is building from state and local officials to let patients buy their prescription drugs from Canada.

A week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took steps to shut down the Canadian company supplying prescription drugs to city workers in Springfield, Mass., two other governors were aggressively exploring the same idea.

From the Charleston (WV) Post Courier:
Seniors take trips for drugs
--Melvyn and Fern Pylka spent the sunshine hours of their wedding anniversary last week on a charter bus, hoping to toast their 48 years together with a nice, big price break on Fosamax, a popular drug to treat osteoporosis.

Across the aisle, Ray and Virginia Park, who last year drove to Mexico to buy prescription drugs, played cribbage and wondered how and whether they can pay for expensive drugs such as Actos and Zocor, brands as familiar to them as the names of their grandchildren.

From the Peoria (IL) Journal Star:
Governor rebuffed on drug proposal
"No one is suggesting that we import prescription drugs that aren't safe," said Blagojevich, responding to the FDA's concerns at a Capitol Hill press conference. "But ... why not work to help more prescription drugs manufactured abroad meet your guidelines, so that more consumers can eventually purchase them and save money?"

From the Des Moines (IO) Register:
Governor considers drug buy in Canada
Gov. Tom Vilsack says Iowa should look into how much it could save by buying its employees' drugs through Canada, adding that he's considering a push to make the practice legal.

The governor said Thursday that he would send his human-services director to Canada next month to talk with authorities there about the possibility of buying medicines for the 70,000 people covered under the state's insurance plans.

He said that if the savings seemed significant enough, he would argue for changes in federal law to allow such purchases.

From CTV.ca:
Cross-border web pharmacies could hurt Canada
In a report released Wednesday, the Vancouver-based think-tank said U.S. drug makers are already taking steps to reduce their supply of certain drugs to Canada -- in reaction to cross-border internet sales undercutting U.S. prices.

According to Fraser Institute director of health and pharmaceutical policy research, John Graham, the effects of the pharmaceutical companies' strategy could become widespread.

From WIFR (IL):
Canadian Drugs
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was on Capitol Hill Wednesday, urging legislators to let state and local governments import drugs from Canada. We can see a huge cost savings from imported drugs, but some say it's not worth the risk.

Affordable prescription drugs opened its doors on North Alpine Road about a week ago, and the phones are ringing off the hook as stateliners look for a remedy to the high cost of prescription drugs. All you need is a prescription, then McAllister's store forwards it to a pharmacy in Canada. The pharmacy ships the drugs about ten days later.

From KSDK (MO):
Blagojevich Takes Fight For Cheaper RX to Capitol Hill
Prescription drugs bought in Canada are far less expensive than the same drugs purchased in the U.S. That's why Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is pushing for the right to have states import the lower cost drugs. But not everyone finds thinks that is a good idea.

“If we can pass those savings onto our consumers, onto our seniors, and onto our taxpayers, why wouldn't we,” says Blagojevich. “Because the Food and Drug Administration says we can't.”

From CTV.ca:
Cross-border web pharmacies could hurt Canada
Canadians could lose access to brand-name prescription drugs, if something isn't done to curb internet pharmacies' sales to American consumers. That's the warning in a new study from the Fraser Institute.

From the Poplar Bluff (MO) Daily Republic:
Imported drug issue is boiling
Debate over letting Americans buy cheaper prescription drugs is simmering in Congress, but it has reached the boiling point outside the nation's capital.

"People are so angry right now. This is a very, very emotional issue," said Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a Missouri Republican who engineered House approval of a drug importation bill. "We have got to, as a party, do something about it, because it is immoral. It is very immoral that Americans should have to subsidize the world."

Thursday, September 25, 2003

More updates later this evening.

From the Boston Globe:
Governors of Iowa, Minnesota to study buying Canadian drugs
Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsack and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said they will study whether their states can save money by buying employees' prescription drugs from Canada, even as US officials condemn the practice.

Vilsack said he plans to discuss such a program with state insurers if he finds that it would save money for Iowa's 70,000 employees. Iowa's drug costs rose 20 percent to $54 million last year. Iowa and Minnesota will also seek price cuts in talks with drug makers, such as Pfizer Inc., that supply their Medicaid programs for the poor, the governors said in separate statements.

From the Johnson County (KS) Sun:
Feds target Canadian drug connection
Mary Hunt-Hansen, owner of the R-X Depot in Overland Park, hopes to be put out of business some day - but not by the federal government, which is taking the 90-store R-X Depot chain to court next month.

Rather, Hansen would like to see the pharmaceutical industry lower its prices for prescription drugs to U.S. residents, either voluntarily or through federal price controls.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

From the Washington Post:
Iowa Plans to Procure Drugs From Canada
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said he intends to seek lower-priced medicines from Canada for state employees, a move that puts added pressure on Congress and the Food and Drug Administration to find a way to control the soaring cost of prescription drugs in this country.

Vilsack, a Democrat, became the second governor in 10 days to join a growing contingent of advocacy groups, for-profit businesses and one city in looking across the border for cheaper drugs.

"People do not understand how they can purchase something in Canada for far less than it costs here in the United States," Vilsack said in an interview.
From the Iowa Channel:
Vilsack Launches Study On Canadian Drug Savings

Gov. Tom Vilsack wants to know how much the state could save by buying prescription drugs in Canada, where prices are a lot cheaper.

Vilsack has announced a study that will look at the costs of covering prescription drugs bought for state workers and for seniors in the state's Medicaid program.

Iowa spends about $300 million a year on prescriptions drugs.

Vilsack said if a survey shows Canadian drugs would be considerably cheaper, officials would pressure drug companies and insurance carriers to provide drugs at the lower price.

The governor said if that fails, officials will pressure the federal government to lift its ban on importing drugs.

From WTVW (IL):
Blagojevich takes prescription drug issue to Capitol Hill
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich plans to spend Wednesday on Capitol Hill lobbying for a proposal allowing state and local governments to import prescription drugs from Canada.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff says the governor has scheduled a news conference. He's also scheduled meetings with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senator Edward Kennedy.

Blagojevich also hopes to speak to officials from the Food and Drug Administration. He wants to reverse the federal government's prohibition on drug imports.

From MLive.com:
Business offers cheaper medicine
A company that helps people buy prescription drugs from Canada opened Monday in Jackson, promising customers a cheaper alternative as traditional pharmacies cry foul.

Jay Wentzel, owner of the American Drug Club of Jackson at the northeast corner of Cortland and Mechanic streets, said the uninsured or underinsured can save an average of 50 percent on their prescriptions by getting them through his business.

From the Superior (WI) Daily Telegram:
Walls between U.S. consumers and cheaper Canadian drugs should be torn down (editorial)
With prices of prescription drugs continuing to rise, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle says he may lobby the federal government to allow the state to buy drugs from Canada for state employees. It could mean joining Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in trying to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to drop the policy that bans states from buying drugs from Canada, where they can cost less than half what they do in the United States.

Blagojevich has asked the other governors for help, and at first glance it sounds like a good move for Doyle. After all, the state provides benefit plans for 240,000 state and local government workers through the Department of Employee Trust Funds, and drug prices are expected to go up 17 percent this year. That’s significant when you consider that Wisconsin pays about $100 million annually for drugs for government workers.

From Newsday:
Two-Med Treatment Encouraging Against SARS
A drug cocktail shows promise in the treatment of SARS, according to the results of a small Canadian study.

Patients given a combination of interferon and steroid medications showed quicker improvement in lung function compared with those who received only steroids. They were weaned off oxygen about a week sooner than patients who did not receive the combination therapy.

Monday, September 22, 2003

From the Chicago Sun Times:
Drug cost gap puts heat on FDA
As more Americans buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada, the U.S. government is warning that these medicines might not work and could be dangerous. "Don't risk your health," a Food and Drug Administration brochure warns.

Yet, when FDA Associate Commissioner William Hubbard was asked during a congressional hearing how many times Canadian drugs have harmed American citizens, he responded, "I know of none."

Sunday, September 21, 2003

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Doyle to join effort to buy drugs in Canada
Gov. Jim Doyle will try to change federal rules forbidding Wisconsin from buying lower-cost drugs from Canada for state employees, a spokesman said Friday.

"The governor believes prescription drug prices are just too high, and Gov. Doyle feels the same way as the Illinois governor does, and we are looking at what needs to be done to bring down prices," said Dan Leistikow, Doyle spokesman.

From Reuters:
Mayor Vows to Fight U.S. Over Canada Drug Buys
day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a formal warning letter to the firm facilitating the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada for city employees in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city's mayor vowed to continue the program.

"That's why we have courts," said Mayor Michael Albano, who appeared on Capitol Hill with members of the U.S. House who are backing legislation that would explicitly legalize what Springfield is doing.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Critics are wary of Illinois' drugs-from-Canada plan
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's call for the legalization of prescription drug imports from Canada has some pharmacists in Illinois seeing red.

From the New York Times:
The Safety of Imported Drugs (Editorial)
The allure of importing cheap prescription drugs from Canada and other advanced nations is proving irresistible, despite federal laws against it and stern warnings from the Food and Drug Administration that imported drugs may not be safe. Individual consumers have been buying drugs from abroad for some time now. The new wrinkle is that state and local officials have become interested. Illinois has asked regulators for permission to import drugs from Canada, California has been exploring the possibilities, and the city of Springfield, Mass., has already started importing drugs from Canada for its workers and retirees, in open defiance of the F.D.A. It is a sign of how untenable the drug industry's outrageously lopsided pricing strategies have become.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
The FDA strikes back (Editorial)
Canadians will no doubt be alarmed to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers the drugs they buy at their pharmacies, many of them manufactured in the United States, unsafe for residents of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Friday, September 19, 2003

From the Boston Herald:
At FDA `no,' Rx-import fans rephrase question
Springfield Mayor Michael Albano threw the Canadian drug import issue back to the FDA yesterday, saying he intends to ask the regulator to support a controversial program to supply low-cost medicines for city workers and retirees.

Albano said he plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration to write regulations that would let the Springfield program survive as a test project. The agency has said the program is illegal and unsafe.
From the Newark (NJ) Star Journal:
Firm told sales of drugs from Canada are illegal
The Food and Drug Administration yesterday warned a company that supplies prescription drugs from Canada that its Internet and mail-order operations are illegal.

The company, CanaRX Services, made headlines recently for supplying the city of Springfield, Mass., with low-cost prescription drugs. By creating a program for city employees, Springfield Mayor Michael Albano said he could save $4 million this year. He took action after purchasing his own son's insulin from CanaRX.

From the Boston Globe:
FDA tells supplier to halt Canadian drug orders
The Food and Drug Administration sent a formal warning letter to CanaRx Services Inc. on the same day that Springfield Mayor Michael Albano traveled to the FDA's suburban Washington headquarters to explain his program. In a 90-minute closed-door meeting, Albano told FDA officials that the city saves $4 million to $9 million a year by purchasing prescription drugs for its employees from Canada, that he has full confidence in their safety, and that he has no intention of cutting off the Canadian shipments. After the meeting, which both sides described as amicable, Albano said that if CanaRx were shut down, he would tap another supplier.

From Canada.com:
Illinois governor joins chorus asking U.S. government allow Canadian drugs in
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada on Thursday, days after saying he would explore the option for state employees.

From WILX (MI):
American Drug Club
But it's not just the safety of the product that concerns the congressman and some area pharmacists. They say there's virtually no relationship between the doctor, patient and pharmacist.

"I think it's a disservice to the patient. We're accessible and the last communicator with the patient after the doctor, and we can catch any possible mistakes," Diane Miller, pharmacist.

From Reuters:
Illinois to Ask FDA to OK Canada Drug Imports
Illinois is asking U.S. regulators to let states import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, the governor said on Thursday, in the latest salvo by cash-strapped states to put a lid on rising drug prices.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reverse its "misguided" stance opposing states buying discounted Canadian prescriptions.

From the Quad City (IL) Times:
Do NOT send money (editorial)
Now that we’ve got enough presidential candidates to field a football team, we ought to be forcing them to the scrimmage line on this Canadian drug issue. They’ve got to go one way or the other. They’re either with the drug-making interests or they’re with us: the people who are drowning in health-care debt.

From the Independent (UK):
US looks to Canada for cheaper drugs
City and state governments in the United States are considering breaking federal law to purchase cheap prescription drugs from Canada for their employees.

The trend for buying medicine across the border began when American retirees chartered coaches to benefit from products costing half the price of those in the US.

From the Globe and Mail:
Viagra's stiff challenge
Viagra is about to face some stiff competition.

A new drug to treat erectile dysfunction has been approved by Health Canada. The makers of the prescription medication, sold under the trade name Cialis, say its effects last up to 36 hours. Viagra works for about four or five hours.
From the Stamford (CT) Advocate:
Congress members back cities buying drugs from Canada
A bipartisan group of U.S. House members said Wednesday that it is building momentum to pass legislation allowing the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and other lawmakers also denounced the federal government's effort to shut down the Canadian company supplying drugs to city workers in Springfield, Mass., flatly discounting claims that the drugs are not safe.

From HealthCentral.com:
FDA Widens Crackdown on Imported Drugs
Broadening its crackdown on imported prescription medications, the U.S. government is threatening to shut down a company that sells Canadian drugs to public employees in Springfield, Mass.

In a warning letter to CanaRx Services Inc., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the company illegally sells medications through the Internet and mail. These prescriptions, the FDA said, endanger Americans, and CanaRX has made "misleading assurances to consumers about the safety of its drugs."

From PBS.org:
Illinois said earlier this week that it was looking into buying less costly Canadian prescriptions for state employees and retirees. Maine and Vermont have also recently expressed interest in drug reimportation.

"If the federal government is not able to correct serious drug price disparities between the U.S. and rest of the world, then it should give states the flexibility to pursue better prices on their own," said Blagojevich at a press conference in Chicago. "However, the FDA to date has refused to permit state and local governments to import prescription drugs from Canada."

From the Marco Island (FL) Sun Times:
Rx of Canada helps Islanders get cheaper prescriptions
The good news for Marco Islanders is that you don't have to purchase your Canadian drugs through the Internet anymore. You can now purchase them through Rx of Canada located at 987 N. Collier Blvd. on the second floor above Andre's Steakhouse.

Sue Fabry, manager and wife of owner Dennis Fabry, said their focus is to promote quality healthcare by providing access to prescription medications for personal use from Canadian pharmacies. "When using this service, customers will receive the deepest discounts available on all brand name and generic prescriptions and save quite a bit of money," said Sue. "There is no charge for belonging to Rx of Canada. It's a free community service," she continued.

From the Bangor (ME) Daily News:
Canada Scheming (editorial)
The drug industry has fought so hard against changes to the country's obviously broken prescription drug pricing system that cities, states and tribes have been forced to turn to what may sound like bizarre schemes to rein in the rising costs of drugs. That the city of Springfield, Mass., the state of Illinois and the Penobscot Nation are considering buying drugs from Canada because the same drugs are much cheaper there is clear evidence that the current system, in which American consumers pay the highest prices for prescription drugs of any Western country, is in dire need of reform. Rather than attacking such "schemes," the industry should encourage lawmakers to devote their energy to developing a meaningful, comprehensive plan to lower the cost of prescription medications for all Americans.

Instead, when a state such as Maine tries to ease this burden by having prices reflect what would be considered normal in many countries, as it did with Maine Rx, the drug lobby immediately calls in its lawyers and sues. And, year after year, it persuades Congress that it is necessary for Americans to subsidize the world's prescription drug use or risk losing essential research, an argument made silly by the industry's lavish budgets for doctor freebies, artsy commercials and enormous dividends.

From the Ottawa Citizen:
New drug on the block set to give Viagra a run for its money
Viagra is no longer the only kid on the block.

Drug giant Eli Lilly announced Thursday it has received Health Canada approval to market its erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis (pronounced see-AL-iss) in this country. "One of the most common benefits reported to me by my ED (erectile dysfunction) patients in the Cialis clinical trials was that it can allow intimate sexual activity at various time points, for up to 36 hours," said Dr. Gerald Brock, a urologist with St. Joseph's Health Care in London, Ont.
From the Lansing (MI) State Journal:
Canadian drug firm may face complaint
The Michigan Pharmacists Association, an advocacy group for 3,500 pharmacists, is attacking the Canadian company that opened a Lansing storefront Monday.

Larry Wagenknecht, chief executive officer of the association, said the organization will file a complaint against American Drug Club's newest location, at 1456 E. Michigan Ave., on the grounds that it's an unlicensed pharmacy.

He vows to file for an "immediate cease and desist" order by week's end with the state Department of Consumer and Industry Services' Health Regulatory Division. He said the complaint will duplicate one filed last month against the company's Livonia store.

From the Lorain (OH) Morning Journal:
Seniors head north for cheaper medicine
Despite polls that continually show Americans supporting the addition of a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare to help seniors without insurance coverage, politicians are failing to make substantial changes to the system. Like the bank accounts of many seniors, the political promises have run empty.

Fed up with paying high prices for prescription drugs, Americans are boarding Canada-bound buses to take advantage of the savings the Canadian Patented Medicines Prices Review Board mandates.

From the Lincoln (IL) Courier:
Pharmacists blast gov. on drug proposal
Illinois pharmacists on Monday criticized Gov. Rod Blagojevich for his cost-cutting proposal to allow state employees and retirees to purchase prescription drugs from Canada, claiming the illegal practice is unsafe and financially shortsighted.

Acknowledging that competition among pharmacies is stiff, an industry spokesman said pharmacists statewide are focused on providing quality prescription drugs to their customers.

From InternetNews.com:
FDA Warns U.S. Site Selling Canadian Prescription Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Tuesday issued a warning letter to a Detroit-based firm operating an Internet and mail order business selling Canadian prescription drugs. The FDA claims CanaRx Services, Inc., is operating an illegal business and is a risk to public health.

From the (Portland) Oregonian:
Who's your drug dealer? (Editorial)
The FDA's move last week signals the administration's position on changing rules on reimportation. To be sure, there is an argument to be made about the safety of drugs pouring into this country from points unknown. But we also import food from other countries with government assurances of safety. By stipulating countries eligible for reimportation, Congress was taking a careful approach.

The FDA should work with Congress to help fashion a temporary mechanism. If Congress finally succeeds in getting prescription drug coverage for seniors, the problem would go away on its own.

From the Detroit News:
Canadian drugstore sets up in Lansing
Canadian company opened a store in Lansing on Monday to provide Canadian prescription drug service.

The American Drug Club outlets are touted as low-cost prescription assistance centers. Staff members provide price information to customers and help them order drugs from the Canadian pharmacies.

From the Lorain (OH) Morning Journal:
Trupos: Trapped in middle of discounts, drug costs
Irene Trupo would wait nervously every time her husband Tony had to go to the doctor. Each time she knew they might hear what they feared most, ''Mr. Trupo, you need heart surgery.''
From the Boston Globe:
Springfield supplier: Drug shipments legal
Making his first public response, Howard, a retired insurance executive from Windsor, Ontario, appeared at a press conference at Springfield City Hall yesterday with Mayor Michael Albano and said he believes his company is operating within the law -- or at least within the guidelines the FDA has established for individual shipments of drugs into the United States. Importing prescription drugs is illegal, but the FDA has declined to enforce the prohibition for individual consumers, who get discounts of 20 to 80 percent by tapping into Canada's drug distribution system, which has strict price controls.

From the Boston Herald:
Rebels hit FDA policy on Rx: But industry calls imports dangerous
A group of congressmen rallied yesterday around Springfield Mayor Michael Albano and others buying prescription drugs from Canada, while pharmacy leaders spoke against the movement.

The Springfield program to buy Canadian drugs for city employees and retirees has come under fire by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which says it's risky.

From the Brattlesboro (VT) Reformer:
Sanders works for drug importation
Pointing to the move by a Massachusetts mayor in the face of federal opposition to offer Canadian-bought medications to city workers, Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., says momentum is building for a prescription drug re-importation plan that would ultimately revolutionize Medicare.

By legalizing the cost-cutting effort undertaken by Springfield, Mass., Mayor Michael Albano, and encouraging other communities and states to follow his lead, lawmakers say free-market forces eventually will drive down the prices of prescription drugs made in the United States.

From the Berkshire (MA) Eagle:
FDA targets Springfield's Canada drugs
The federal government took the first step yesterday toward shutting down a company supplying cheaper Canadian prescription drugs to city workers and retirees in Springfield, Mass.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

More updates to come later this evening.

From the North Adams (MA) Transcript:
Kennedy backs Springfield mayor's drug plan
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, an outspoken opponent of importing drugs from foreign wholesalers, is backing the move by the mayor of Springfield, Mass., to offer Canadian-bought medications to the city's 10,000 workers and retirees.

The Massachusetts Democrat said the safety fears he has about the quality and authenticity of drugs sold by foreign sellers are diminished in this instance because Springfield Mayor Michael Albano has negotiated with a reputable Canadian pharmacy.

From the Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune:
Drug storefront issue heating up
Three months after Florida's Board of Pharmacy declared that storefronts offering prescription drugs from Canada are illegal, not a single charge has been filed against the more than 50 storefronts operating in the state.

"We're confused and perplexed why action has not been taken," said Michael Jackson, vice president of the Florida Pharmacy Association, a trade group based in Tallahassee representing licensed pharmacists. "Somebody needs to be doing something."

From the St. Petersburg (FL) Times:
In drugmakers' defense, spokesman stays busy
Arguments against Canadian drug imports tumble out of Jeffrey Trewhitt like capsules from a bottle. They are unsafe. Buyers don't get what they are promised.

What's worse, at least from Trewhitt's perspective, is that such imports introduce U.S. consumers to a concept drugmakers would rather remain foreign: government-mandated price controls.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

From the Duluth (MN) News Tribune:
FDA Moves to Shut Down Canada Drug Broker
The government took the first step Tuesday toward shutting down the supply of a Canadian company's prescription drugs to city workers and retirees in Springfield, Mass.

But Springfield Mayor Michael Albano, after a 90-minute meeting with Food and Drug Administration officials Tuesday, said the legal warning was expected. The company, Ontario-based CanaRX Services Inc., "has a different interpretation of the law," Albano said.

From Reuters:
U.S. Warns Web Site Aiding Drug Imports from Canada
U.S. regulators, taking another step to stop prescription drug imports, on Tuesday warned a Detroit-based company that it was illegally helping Americans obtain cheaper medicines from Canada.

The Food and Drug Administration said the company, CanaRX Services Inc., was putting people's health at risk and making misleading assurances about the safety of its drugs. The company runs a Web site from which consumers can order medicines from Canadian pharmacies

From the Indianapolis Star:
Lilly, Burton at odds over importing drugs
A congressional forum in Indianapolis to drum up public support for a prescription drug importation bill brought a major hometown adversary out of the civic woodwork: Eli Lilly and Co.

The drugmaker bused in about 100 employees and several patients helped by Lilly drugs to speak against the bill and to target one of its staunchest advocates, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.

From the Indy Channel:
Lilly Workers Boo Burton During Drug Forum
Dozens of Eli Lilly and Co. workers booed U.S. Rep. Dan Burton during a congressional forum he sponsored to build support for allowing the importation of prescription drugs.

Burton, R-Ind., and Lilly long have been at odds over the bill, and Monday's forum demonstrated the divide between those who find it difficult to afford their prescription drugs and drug makers and regulators who raise safety and economic concerns about legalizing drug imports.

From KLTV (TX):
RX Depot Says Its Not Going Anywhere -- But It Is Changing Its Name
A Tyler company allowing East Texas seniors to get cheaper prescription drugs from Canada says it's here to stay. The news from RX Depot comes despite reports the FDA was trying to shut it down for breaking the law. RX depot owners in Tyler say they have not received any word from the government they are breaking the law. They say their lawyers have assured them they are not doing anything illegal. Senior customers were thrilled to hear the news and they hope the government will stop trying to take away their only option for cheaper drugs.

RX depot did say it was changing its name to Canadian RX Outpost effective today.

From the Lansing (MI) State Journal:
Canadian drugs draw few takers
About 20 people walked through the doors of 1456 E. Michigan Ave., the new American Drug Club outlet that connects mid-Michigan's "uninsured and underinsured" residents with Canadian pharmacies selling cheaper prescription drugs.
From KOTV (OK):
Federal court sets hearing date for RX Depot
A hearing over the future of RX Depot has been scheduled for October 8th. The US Justice Department wants an injunction to stop the Tulsa based company from arranging Canadian drug purchases.

The government alleges importing drugs from Canada puts the public at risk, and violates federal law. That law says only pharmaceutical manufacturers can import their drug products from abroad.
From the Boston Globe:
FDA drug scrutiny rapped as uneven
Last month, the agency conducted an unusual sting operation targeting the City of Springfield, which is importing lower-priced drugs from Canada for city workers to reduce the spiraling cost of drugs bought in the United States. In an elaborate undercover operation, the FDA received at room temperature a single order of insulin that should have been chilled. The agency publicized the sting nationally to illustrate what it described as the dangers of ordering drugs by Internet from Canada.

But the FDA takes a hands-off approach to enforcing the much greater volume of prescription shipments from US Internet mail-order pharmacies, where increasing numbers of Americans get their drugs. In fact, FDA officials said they can't recall ever conducting a domestic sting operation targeting the quality of insulin or other drug shipments.

From the Portland (ME) Press Herald:
Penobscots, seniors outline plan to import drugs from Canada
The Penobscot Indian Nation and Maine Council of Senior Citizens want to set up a system to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and sell them to pharmacies in Maine.

Under a plan announced Monday, the tribe would buy supplies from a wholesaler in Canada - where drug costs are much lower because of government price controls and a favorable exchange rate - and then distribute them from a warehouse on Indian Island, the Penobscot Indian reservation.

Illinois may buy Canadian drugs
Facing budget-breaking increases in prescription drug bills, the governor of Illinois took the first step yesterday toward purchasing lower-cost medications from Canada, a move that puts him in direct conflict with federal regulators and signals a dramatic escalation in the civil war over U.S. drug prices.

From the Toronto Star:
Illinois wants Canadian drugs
President George W. Bush is facing open and growing defiance over the cost of prescription drugs in this country after the state of Illinois said it was poised to begin buying cheaper medicines from Canada.

The state, the fifth-most populous in the country, would be the largest market to join the buy-Canada groundswell, setting up an epic battle between cash-strapped state and local jurisdictions and a White House which seems determined to protect the profits of U.S. drug makers.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Feds raid suburban drug repackager
A day after Gov. Blagojevich took the first step toward buying inexpensive medications in Canada for more than 200,000 state workers and retirees, federal agents on Monday raided a south suburban business that has been importing drugs and repackaging them for sale in the United States.
(Editor's Note: The concept of repackaging medications in any form is not done in Canada. A pharmacy ordering drugs from the wholesaler receives it in manufacturer-sealed containers.)

From the Denver Post:
FDA set to seize medical imports
Most pharmacists are likely unaware they've purchased foreign product, he said. "This company has been defrauding pharmacies around the country by misrepresenting the product."

Patients who are taking Lipitor, Coumadin or Celebrex should ask their pharmacist where the drugs were purchased. Any reputable pharmacy ought to allow customers to return drugs from Alliance Wholesale or Local Repack, he said.
(Editor's note: Counterfeit repackaged items may be sitting in local American retail pharmacies accross the country. The customers and pharmacists may not even be aware of it. To my knowledge, there has never been a documented case like this in Canada.)

Monday, September 15, 2003

From the New York Times:
Illinois Considers Buying Drugs in Canada
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois is considering whether his state should begin buying prescription drugs from Canada for its employees, a decision that he says could save tens of millions of dollars, but could also put him at odds with the Food and Drug Administration over the issue.

"It doesn't matter where you go in our state, you meet people who are struggling with the cost of prescription drugs," Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, said in an interview this afternoon. "If you can buy the same drug made by the same company, and it is safe and it costs less, then that makes sense."

From the Columbus (GA) Ledger Enquirer:
Illinois Governor's Drug Plan Finds Foes
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to explore buying state employees' prescription drugs in Canada was met with opposition Monday as critics said such a move would be illegal and harmful to patients and businesses alike.

"It's not a long-term solution," said Michael Polzin, a spokesman for Illinois-based drugstore chain Walgreen Co. "I think the efforts would be better put toward finding a permanent solution rather than a quick fix that is illegal."

From CBC News:
Illinois defies U.S. government warning on buying Canadian drugs
The U.S. rebellion against high-cost drugs and federal regulators just got a lot louder with word Illinois may allow state employees and retirees to buy cheaper medications from Canada.

"Anything we can do that safely and effectively reduces those costs is definitely worth looking into," said Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding Illinois stands to save tens of millions of dollars a year. Activists, elated by Blagojevich's plans to explore potential savings, said Monday he's calling the bluff of U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials who have recently warned local governments importing Canadian prescription drugs is illegal and unsafe.

From WISH-TV (IN):
Burton to Hold Town Hall Meeting on Prescription Drugs
Hoosier senior citizens say they are fed up with the high cost of prescription drugs. "They're cheaper every place else. They're cheaper in Mexico. They're cheaper in Canada. Why do we have to carry the burden here where our poor seniors who do live on fixed income have to pay outrageous prices for these drugs and have to go without a decent way to live?" asked Sue Connor, a Kokomo resident.

Dozens of Eli Lilly workers also attended Burton's meeting. They charged that Burton's plan to ease the burden of pharmaceuticals on consumers would cost them their jobs. "I want the pharmaceutical companies to do well. I want them to succeed. But I don't believe Americans should bear all the costs of research and development and the advertising and everything else," said Burton.

From WTHR (IN):
Seniors, Lilly employees at odds
Dick Egan is an Indianapolis senior spending nearly $5,000 a year in prescription drugs. For instance, he needs an inhaler. "I have emphysema and I have to have this four times a day."

Dick says he can save $2,000 a year buying drugs in Canada. "This doesn't seem right that I pay $51 in the United States and $41 in Canada for three."

From WILX-TV (MI):
New "Drug" Store Opens in Lansing
The American Drug Club, a Canadian company, opened its doors in Lansing Monday. The store connects patients with low-cost prescriptions from Canada. Owners say the savings range from 30 to 80 percent and they're targeting those who often have difficulty affording prescriptions, the elderly, the un-and under-insured.

Patients who want their prescriptions filled need to bring their prescription to the American Drug Club office, fill out a health history, and the drugs will be mailed to their homes in two to four weeks. The store does not keep any drugs on hand, and is not a licensed pharmacy.

From WMTW (ME):
Drug-cost coalition formed
A three-way coalition has been formed to push for the importation of prescription drugs so more Mainers can afford them.

The Maine Council of Senior Citizens is teaming up with the Penobscot Indian Nation and Maine AFL-CIO. The coalition was announced Monday morning in Augusta.

From WBBM (IL):
Pharmaceutical Industry Concerned By Possible Drugs-From-Canada For State Workers
Members of the pharmaceutical industry say they're concerned that Governor Blagojevich is considering the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

From HealthCentral.com:
Illinois Moves to Buy Canadian Drugs
Illinois' Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich is considering allowing up to 240,000 state employees to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, putting him at odds with the Bush Administration, which is trying to stem the growing practice, the Washington Post reports Monday.

From the Washington Times:
Illinois studying importing Canadian drugs
Illinois is joining other states and municipalities in studying whether to import Canadian prescriptions to save taxpayer money.
From Crain's Chicago Business:
Guv looks to Canada for cheap Rx
Facing skyrocketing health care costs, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is considering letting 230,000 state employees and retirees buy prescription drugs in Canada and receive reimbursement from state health plans.

“The skyrocketing cost of prescription medications is a huge burden for consumers and for taxpayers who help pay for state employees’ health costs,” the governor said in a statement. “Anything we can do that safely and effectively reduces those costs is definitely worth looking into.”

From the Lansing (MI) State Journal:
Canadian drug store to open in Lansing
American Drug Club, a Canadian company that's run afoul of U.S. drug officials, plans to open a Lansing outlet today.

The store at 1456 E. Michigan Ave. will be blocks from Sparrow Hospital and potentially could draw customers from 30 miles away.

From MLive.com:
American Drug Club opens outlet in Lansing
A Canadian company opened a store in Lansing on Monday to provide Canadian prescription drug service.

The American Drug Club outlets are touted as low-cost prescription assistance centers. Staff members provide price information to customers and help them order drugs from the Canadian pharmacies.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

From the Washington Post:
Illinois May Buy Canadian Drugs
Facing budget-breaking increases in prescription drug bills, the governor of Illinois took the first step yesterday toward purchasing lower-cost medications from Canada, a move that puts him in direct conflict with federal regulators and signals a dramatic escalation in the civil war over U.S. drug prices.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Rx Depot isn't backing down
"This (Rx Depot) is deregulation of the drug industry. Disease has no borders, and neither should medicine. The public is no longer content to be hoodwinked. ... If you cut my head off, 10 more will grow," said Moore, during an interview with the Tribune Review Friday.
From Myrtle Beach (SC) Sun News:
Canada drugstore closures vex locals
The Myrtle Beach couple, who have no drug insurance coverage, are worried they may not be able to afford their prescriptions if the U.S. government closes businesses that make it easier for people like them to buy less-expensive medicines from Canada.

"It's really going to hurt us," said Barb Tuttle who, with her husband, has several medications shipped to them through Canada Drug Service, a new Myrtle Beach business. "It will be a terrible imposition for us. We would try any way we could to do it on our own."

From the Louisville (KY) Courier Journal:
Bipartisan group urging Congress to make purchases legal
Ethelyn Price, 87, and a friend, Shirleen Wright, 60, drove three hours from Cleveland to Windsor to fill a new prescription for glaucoma medicine.

One month's supply of eyedrops costs Price $80 in the United States. A three-month supply from Hunter's Pharmacy in Windsor, just 10 minutes from Detroit, costs slightly more than $100.

From the New York Daily News:

Indians score big on drugs
Already reaping huge profits from the sale of tax-free cigarettes and cheap gasoline, Native American entrepreneurs have discovered a lucrative - and, regulators say, illegal - new source of revenue: prescription drugs.

Cashing in on haphazard regulation of pharmaceuticals on the reservations, Indians have opened Web page storefronts where drugs imported from Canada are sold to U.S. patients at whopping discounts.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Canadian drug wars hit home
As Oklahoma businessman Carl Moore sees it, the state of Indiana wants to violate his right of free speech and stop him from helping residents buy lower-cost prescription drugs in Canada.

To the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, Moore runs what amounts to an unlicensed pharmacy at 1647 N. Shadeland Ave. and must shut it down or face a possible fine and jail term.
From HealthCentral.com:
Feds Pledge Continued Crackdown on Imported Prescriptions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it has launched investigations into 95 Web sites for allegedly selling imported prescription drugs illegally, and that many of them could face legal action that could include forced shutdown.

The FDA said it also has e-mailed nearly 200 "cyber warning letters" to domestic and foreign online sellers, informing them the sites are violating U.S. law. The agency says its enforcement efforts are increasingly focusing on storefront U.S. businesses -- most of which have opened this year -- that import prescription drugs and sell them to Americans.

From the Indianapolis Business Journal:
Canada drug debate rages
The Indiana Board of Pharmacy welcomed Sam Doss to the local pharmaceutical front with a warning letter that arrived on his first day of business.

Doss opened a storefront called Rx Depot on North Shadeland Avenue last month in an attempt to help people order prescription drugs from Canada. He lasted only a week after the letter informed him that he might be breaking the law.

From the Boston Herald:
Springfield mayor to meet with FDA
Springfield's mayor, who started a controversial program to buy drugs from Canada for city workers, plans to meet Tuesday with the head of the federal agency that opposes the practice as unsafe and illegal.

From WXOW (WI):
Pharmacy Society Meets to Discuss Issues
Some are importing drugs and medicine from Canada to keep costs down. According to the Chairperson of the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board, importing drugs violated federal law. Patients could receive unsafe prescriptions or even counterfeit drugs.

From the Pittsburgh Channel:
Discount Drug Stores Face Government Lawsuit
Many people go to Canada to get drug prescriptions filled because it can be cheaper there. But Action News finds that the government doesn't want everyone in on the Canada connection.

Team 4's Paul Van Osdol reports that the government filed an injunction Thursday in an effort to shut down a chain of stores that helps people get drugs from Canada. The store is called Rx Depot, and there are three of them in western Pennsylvania.

From WISH-TV (IN):
RX Depot Owner Challenged
The owner of a new kind of drug store is fighting to keep the store open after only being in business for ten days.

The Indiana Pharmacy Board is asking the attorney general's office to look at RX Depot because it says the business is acting like a pharmacy without a license.

From the Louisville (KY) Courier Journal:
Canadian drug outlet opens in the Highlands
A business has opened on Bardstown Road to sell low-priced prescription drugs from Canada, and the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy plans to investigate whether it's legal.

U.S. Canadian Drug Connection may be the first such business in Kentucky, said Michael Moné, executive director of the pharmacy board.

From the Denver Post:
Rx of Canada defies order to shut stores
Rx of Canada stores in Denver and Boulder will remain open despite a U.S. government order to shut down and a complaint alleging the company is illegally reimporting U.S.-made pharmaceuticals.

From the Fort Wayne (IN) News Sentinel:
Cheap Canadian drugs may be fakes
Canada has a well-regulated pharmaceutical industry and many Canadian Internet pharmacies appear to be reputable.

The FDA has been cracking down on illegal "storefronts" and Web pharmacies. Be aware that some of these enterprises aren't even in Canada and some are not licensed. They may advertise "Canadian" drugs but get them from other countries or use counterfeits.
From the Seattle Post Inelligencer:
Regulators order Iowa pharmacy closed
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy declared the Union Family Pharmacy an immediate threat to the public. The Dubuque Drug Task Force and federal Drug Enforcement Agency officers took control of Union Family Pharmacy, immediately closing the prescription department.

Friday, September 12, 2003

From HealthCentral.com:
U.S. Moves to Shut Companies Selling Imported Drugs
"It seems to be that there is very little risk that U.S. consumers will obtain faulty drugs" from Canada, said F. M. Scherer, a pharmaceutical industry expert who is a professor emeritus at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The FDA, Scherer said, has failed to provide evidence "necessary to judge whether there is indeed a 'potentially hazardous' situation. The FDA may be crying wolf."

From CNN:
Feds target firm importing Canadian drugs
Citing "significant risks to public health," Justice Department lawyers asked a federal judge Thursday to stop Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Rx Depot from importing prescription drugs from Canada and selling them in the U.S. at reduced prices.

The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration, alleged that Rx Depot, its sister company Rx Canada and the firm's top officials, including company president Carl Moore, violated several laws and risked public health of consumers.

From the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger:
At the center of a storm
Call it the Showdown at the Rx Corral.

On Tuesday, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration will meet with the mayor of Springfield, Mass., to debate reimportation -- the controversial practice of buying cheap prescription drugs from Canada and elsewhere.

From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Canada prescription drugs in Justice’s sights
Kevin Outterson, a West Virginia University professor specializing in health law, said this year’s spike in enforcement actions against the storefronts is definitely encouraged by the pharmaceutical industry.

“They’ve been itching for enforcement for years,” he said, but the government has been reluctant to crack down on senior citizens. “The storefront owners are the easiest target.”

“With one or two prescriptions out of millions of prescriptions, the FDA has not proven that the Canadian market is any less safe than the U.S. market,” Outterson said. “The truth is, they can find similar examples any day in the domestic U.S. market.”

From the Indy Channel (IN):
Store Offering Canadian Drugs Resists Shutdown Efforts
As state and federal groups try to shut Rx Depot down, Carl Moore has a message for them: We'll go all the way to the Supreme Court to stay open.

Moore is president of a company that owns Rx Depot, a new Indianapolis store that helps people buy lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. The Indiana Board of Pharmacy, which says such stores aren't safe because they're not regulated, has asked Indiana's attorney general to shut it down.

From the Boulder (CO) Daily Camera:
Rx of Canada plans to open
Asked whether she planned to open the doors to her business, Rx of Canada, in Boulder today — despite a federal effort to shut down operations like hers — Trudy Pueppke's voice filled with resolve.

"You bet," she said. "We're going to be open for business (today)."

Thursday, September 11, 2003

From the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal:
U.S. Sues to Shut Canadian Drug Stores
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday to shut down two companies operating storefronts that help senior citizens purchase cheaper prescription medicines from Canada.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, Okla., charges that Rx Depot Inc. and its sister company, Rx of Canada LLC, violated federal law by causing the importation of Canadian prescription drugs. Under U.S. law, only pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to bring their medicines into the country.

From the Globe and Mail:
Canada caught up in nasty drug war
Canadians have access to it (in fact, it's cheap and plentiful) but U.S. residents don't. Since many Americans want it quite badly, some of them find ways around their laws in order to get access to it — which is where the Internet comes in. Is it marijuana? Illegally downloaded MP3 music files? No. It's prescription drugs.

From the Saugus (MA) Advertiser:
Local officials fight for imported prescriptions
A bill that promotes the importation of prescription drugs from Canada has placed Massachusetts at the forefront of a national push to reduce the high cost of pharmaceuticals.

From KSDK-TV (MO):
Local Company Offers Prescriptions From Canada
Buying prescription drugs from Canada can save a customer up to 85 %. Florene says this service is no longer an option, it's a necessity. "I know people who skip taking their medicines on a daily basis because it's a choice of doing what they have to do--eat or take their medicines."
From the Hyde Park (NY) Townsman:
Schumer discusses prescription drug imports
The cost for prescription drugs in the United States increases every year, and seniors in particular frequently are unable to afford the medicine they need to stay healthy.

However, there is new legislation before Congress which would allow licensed pharmacists and drug wholesalers to re-import FDA-approved medicines from Canada at a lower price. These savings would then be passed on to New York state consumers
From the Oakland (MI) Press:
Company sells drugs from Canada
American Drug Club, based out of Point Douglas Pharmacy in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, sends prescription drugs to Americans from five different pharmacies. The business has 360 stores in the United States. The company has 13 sites in Michigan, including a Dearborn store that opened Wednesday.

The stores are not pharmacies but offices with staff members and fax machines to help Americans order prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies. Customers must pay with checks, credit cards or cashier's checks, and the prescriptions are sent to their homes. The 4-year-old company also fills prescriptions from regional Web sites.

From Up and Coming Magazine (NC):
Re-imported Drug Ban Should be Overturn
The federal ban on re-imported prescription drugs has turned ailing senior citizens into criminals and dramatically inflated the cost of medicine. This is price-fixing by the federal government, plain and simple. In an attempt to further enrich the pharmaceutical industry, politicians are gouging senior citizens and interfering with every American's right to buy products from wherever they choose.

From the American Prospect:
Remember the Maine
The passage of Maine Rx triggered an almost instant federal court challenge by the drug industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which alleged that the law violated the Constitution's commerce clause and federal Medicaid law. After nearly three years of holdups, the U.S. Supreme Court tentatively ruled in May that Maine could proceed with the program. The state has since retooled its law, now dubbed "Maine Rx Plus," to make it more legally sturdy. Meanwhile, the battle shifts elsewhere, as other states, responding to the Supreme Court's green light and the lobbying of activist coalitions, have sought to craft their own versions of Maine Rx. In response, PhRMA seems prepared to crack open an almost bottomless war chest. According to industry documents obtained by The New York Times, the association will spend a stunning $48.7 million over the next year on state-level lobbying alone.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Study backs the effectiveness of new Lilly drug
Half the women in a urinary incontinence study reported significantly fewer episodes of leakage while using an experimental drug from Eli Lilly and Co.

The study results, to be released today, also showed that 62 percent of women taking the Lilly drug duloxetine reported an improvement in their incontinence condition. That compared to 40 percent of patients taking a sugar pill who reported their condition improved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

From the Canadian Press:
Oklahoma drug company importing from Canada vows to stay open
The Tulsa location of a company ordered to shut down by the U.S. Justice Department instead spent Wednesday dealing with a rush of customers wanting to access cheaper Canadian drugs.

Several senior citizens jammed into a small kiosk operated by Tulsa-based Rx Depot, one day before the American government said the company must agree to close its 85 U.S. storefronts or be sued. "It's going to save us a little over $100 a month," said retiree Jack Turner as he and wife, Janice, visited the shop for the first time. "On a fixed income, that means quite a bit to us."

From the San Diego Channel:
Stores Threatened For Selling Canadian Prescription Drugs
The United States Justice Department is threatening to shut down three San Diego stores that provide low-cost prescription drugs from Canada.

The government sent a letter Tuesday to the company that operates three local stores called "RX of Canada."

From the San Diego Union Tribune:
U.S. warns Rx Depot to shutter all stores
The Justice Department yesterday gave drug importer Rx Depot a final chance to shut down its U.S. storefront operations before the department takes legal action, but the company vowed to continue doing business.

Rx Depot – which operates three local stores in La Mesa, Vista and Hillcrest under the name Rx of Canada – acts as a middleman for customers to order prescription drugs through Canadian pharmacies. Because of government price controls in Canada, drugs are often 50 percent cheaper than in the United States.

From Channel Oklahoma:
Tulsa-Based Drug Company Vows To Stay Open
A Tulsa-based company ordered to shut down by the Justice Department instead spent Wednesday dealing with a rush of customers wanting to access cheaper Canadian drugs.

Several senior citizens jammed into a small kiosk operated by Rx Depot in Tulsa, one day before the government said the company must close its 85 storefronts nationwide or be sued.

From WISH-TV (IN):
Indiana Board of Pharmacy Warns RX Depot
A new kind of drug store opened in Indianapolis just ten days ago and already there is controversy brewing. RX Depot helps people get cheaper medicine from Canada.

The Indiana Board of Pharmacy gave the company a warning.

From WBBH (FL):
Au revoir to discount Canadian drugs?
The federal government is trying to shut down discount Canadian pharmacy operations in Florida. It's bad news for thousands who benefit from the low cost prescription drugs.

From WBAL (MD):
U.S. Seniors Visit Canada For Cheaper Drugs
An increasing number of Americans are buying Canadian prescription drugs and some doctors want to make sure that bargain is a safe one.

Prescription drugs in Canada are much cheaper than those in the United States, 11 News reported. In fact, the Canadian prices are so competitive that senior citizens are boarding buses to head north and stock up on medications.

From the Bella Vista (AR) Weekly Vista:
Canadian drug companies offer prescription alternative
Prescriptions filled in Canada and shipped to the United States are less expensive than those filled locally, sometimes saving consumers as much as 50 percent.

It's a fact almost a million Americans a year try to take advantage of, according to a recent article in the AARP Bulletin Online, and a number of companies have sprouted up to help them do just that.

From WAVE (KY):
Canadian Prescription Drug 'Broker' Opens Louisville Storefront
For the first time that we know of, one of those controversial outlets that sell heavily discounted prescription drugs from Canada has opened in Kentucky, right in the heart of Louisville. State regulators say they will try to shut it down. Similar businesses in Indiana are already being forced to close their doors.

From the Kansas City Channel:
Authorities Go After Company That Ships Prescription Drugs From Canada
The state of Kansas also has Rx Depot in the crosshairs. The attorney general is demanding that Rx Depot change its name. It is apparently illegal for any business in the state to use "Rx" in its name unless a licensed pharmacist is employed there. No pharmacist works at Rx Depot.

From the Edmonton Journal:
AMA loses bid to deny drug firms patient prescription information
A bid to protect the privacy of patient prescriptions from the prying eyes of drug companies has suffered a huge setback after a major health data company announced it won't let doctors protect their drug purchasing information.

From the Globe and Mail:
Generic drug makers jump legal guns
GlaxoSmithKline PLC yesterday faced a big sales loss following the launch of the first generic copy of its top-selling Paxil antidepressant drug in the United States, several months earlier than expected.

The decision by privately held drug maker Apotex Inc.. of Toronto to launch now, before the start of a trial in Philadelphia on two of Glaxo's patents, reflects an increasingly aggressive -- and risky -- approach by makers of generic medicines in their dash to market.
From the Boston Globe:
Drug order firm gets warning
The government took another shot yesterday in its bid to curb the import of Canadian pharmaceuticals, this time aiming at Joe-Max Moore, the all-time scoring leader for the New England Revolution.

The soccer player, 32, who lives in Braintree during the season and in Florida in the winter, and his father, Carl Moore, of Tulsa, Okla., are the principals of a year-old company called RxDepot Inc., a business they say runs 85 "storefronts" coast-to-coast where Americans can order low-cost prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

From the Jewish World Review:
Head of pharmacy chain says he won't stop flow of medicines from Canada
Speaking from his Rx Depot storefront in Aventura, Fla., Carl Moore, chief executive of the 85-store chain, said Tuesday he will defy a demand from the Department of Justice that he stop helping seniors get discount drugs from Canada.

"They're trying to scare the living hell out of people," Moore said. "We're going to the mat. That's what you have to do when you want to stand up for social change. ... We're going to fight forever for the rights of citizens to access affordable medicines from Canada. ...

From the Globe and Mail:
U.S. warns Net drug firm
In the boldest move yet to stem the cross-border flow of cheaper-priced drugs from Canada, the U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the largest chain of Internet stores that deal with Canadian pharmacies to close by tomorrow or face a government lawsuit.

From the Washington Times:
Feds target Canadian pharma-sellers
Food and Drug Administration sought an injunction Wednesday against a Canadian company marketing prescription drugs over the Internet.

In a news release, the FDA said it sought the injunction through the Department of Justice against Rx Depot Inc. and Rx of Canada to stop them from importing drugs that "pose a serious threat to the public health."

From the Toledo (OH) Blade:
Toledoans flood cheap drug outlet
Steve Tobis doesn’t hesitate when asked to describe the response after opening a store in Toledo offering cheap prescription drugs from Canada.

"Good Lord! Today, you can’t hardly get an in-bound line. People say they’ve been trying for half an hour to get through," he said from his office, the sound of ringing phones vouching for his enthusiasm.

From the Naples (FL) Daily News:
Justice Department closing down stores offering Canadian prescription drugs
James Battaglioli fears he could be the next target in the Justice Department's attempt to close down stores in the United States that are filling prescription drugs in Canada.

Battaglioli operates Canada Drug Services Inc. in Naples and has 25 stores across the country, including one off U.S. 41 North in Naples. He said his company is probably the largest of its kind in the United States next to Rx Depot, and that's why he's concerned.

From the Portales (NM) News Tribune:
Canadian drugs cheap, sold locally
A local pharmacy is using Canadian guidelines to sell prescription drugs at cheaper rates, an effort aimed at treating low-income patients without medical insurance.

The business, Canadian RX Depot Inc., advertises savings of 20 to 90 percent on prescription drugs.

The Portales Medical Center has started placing orders through a Canadian RX ordering branch out of Denton, Texas, which in turn places orders from pharmacies in Winnipeg, Manitoba or other pharmacies in Canada.

From the Milwaukee (WI) Journal Sentinel:
Canadian drugs for sale, but legally?
Since opening Tuesday, a storefront business in Wauwatosa that procures prescription drugs from Canada for Wisconsin customers has been swamped with business, the store's owner, Ted Farah, said Wednesday.

Ted Farah is the franchise manager for the Canada Drug Service outlet that opened Tuesday in Wauwatosa. Farah said he plans to open other outlets. This is the chain's first store in Wisconsin.

"We have been getting tons of calls," said Farah, who holds the Wisconsin franchise for Canada Drug Service.