Sunday, November 30, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that does not mean the issue is going away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Sunday, November 09, 2003

From the Boston Globe:
Canada drug crackdown will be difficult
Urged on by the U.S. government, Canadian officials are cracking down on companies, pharmacists and physicians within their borders that help provide American citizens with cheaper prescription drugs.

But complex jurisdictional issues guarantee the enforcement won't be that quick or that simple.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has escalated its threats to shut down companies exporting drugs to America, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan said there are ''no automatic mechanisms set up between our countries.''

Thursday, November 06, 2003

From the Wilmington (NC) Star:
Judge OKs Shutdown of Canada Drugs Firm
A federal judge granted the government's request Thursday to shut down a company, operating as Rx Depot and Rx of Canada, that helps customers buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

From Knight Ridder:
Federal judge closes pharmacy chain that looks to Canada for drugs
In a major setback for consumers, a federal judge on Thursday ordered a chain of 88 stores in 27 states to stop helping customers buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan shuts down Rx Depot, based in Tulsa, Okla., and Nevada-based Rx of Canada until the legality of their activities can be determined at trial. The ruling also means the stores' estimated 850 daily customers nationwide must go elsewhere for Canadian medications that can sell for up to 80 percent less than their U.S. counterparts. Eagan's ruling could also affect several states and cities planning to purchase Canadian drugs for their employees to lower rising health care costs.

From the Globe and Mail:
FDA rattles sabre at Canadian pharmacy company
A Canadian company supplying low-cost drugs to Americans is breaking U.S. law and Washington may consider blocking its shipments, regulators said Thursday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a letter to Ontario-based CanaRx, said the company is shipping illegal drugs into the United States, misleading consumers about safety and putting people at risk.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Importing presciption drugs
Whether Americans opt for Nexium or Prevacid to treat their heartburn, they could have bought the drugs in Canada for less than half the price.

As Congress debates whether to allow foreign pharmacies to fill prescriptions, The Associated Press surveyed comparable U.S. and Canadian prices for 10 popular drugs and found the Canadian prices were 33 percent to 80 percent cheaper.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I apologize for the delay in posting more news. I will attempt to catch up over the next few days.

From the Evansville Courier and Press:
U.S. drugs cost more but reason is elusive
Not every medication is cheaper outside the United States. But on the whole, Americans pay more for their prescription drugs than do people in any other developed country in the world, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Experts point to several factors for price disparity, including the research costs borne by U.S. drug companies.

The main reason for higher U.S. drug prices, many experts agree, is that governments in Canada and Europe regulate the price of drugs or use their clout to negotiate lower prices. The U.S. government does not, and consumers such as McGinnis feel the effects.

From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Fairmont store can continue pharmacy link to Canada
A Fairmont business can continue helping its customers order prescription drugs from Canada despite the state Board of Pharmacy’s complaints, a Kanawha County judge ruled Monday.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom said the business operated by Carole and Steve Becker is not a pharmacy and, therefore, not regulated by the board.