Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Canada Drug Group Won't Sell to U.S. State Employees
A group of Canadian Internet pharmacies said they won't enter agreements to supply low-cost drugs in bulk to U.S. state and municipal workers because of the strain it would put on Canada's health system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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