Thursday, December 30, 2004

From the Holland (Mich.) Sentinel:
Drug companies warn employees to watch for director Michael Moore
Some pharmaceutical companies are telling their employees to look out for the scruffy guy in the baseball cap.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that at least six drug companies have released internal communications telling employees to be wary of filmmaker Michael Moore.
From the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press:
New drugstore promises lower prices via Canada
Discount Canadian drugs will come to the Holland-Zeeland area Tuesday when American Canadian Drugs opens its doors for business in Zeeland.

Store owner Elizabeth Gordon says she hopes to save consumers up to 40 percent on their prescription medications.

"With drug costs sky high, this is an outlet for people to buy their medications at significant savings," said Gordon who is opening the store at 334 Washington Ave. in partnership with Zyad Karadsheh, owner of American Canadian Drugs in Wyoming.
From the Detroit News:
Prescription import debate is far from over
A Bush administration report that raises overwhelming safety concerns about importing lower-cost medicines from Canada and other countries is doing little to ease pressure in Congress for legalizing the practice.

It may be the clearest signal yet, however, that President Bush will block cheaper drug imports -- as the big pharmaceutical manufacturers want -- despite saying in his re-election campaign that he would consider the issue.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

From USA Today:
Canada may stop over-the-border drug sales
A tough new stance by Canada's health minister on Internet drug sales has increased the odds that Americans will soon be stopped from buying Canada's lower-cost medicines, say pharmacists on both sides of the importation fight.

In recent weeks, Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh has spoken out against the cross-border drug trade, saying he might prevent Canadian doctors from co-signing prescriptions for American patients they have not examined. Dosanjh considers the practice unethical without an exam.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Board Rejects Drug Import Bid
Orange County supervisors Tuesday rejected a proposal to let government workers and retirees buy prescription drugs from Canada, a plan that could have saved millions of dollars but would have violated federal law.

The idea drew support from its originator, Supervisor Chuck Smith, and Supervisor Chris Norby, who said the county should be ready to launch such a program if rules against importation are relaxed.

But the board majority had a two-word response to Smith's plan: It's illegal.
From the Calgary Herald:
Soaring drug risk shocks patients
Another popular painkiller used by hundreds of thousands of Canadians is being linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, sending regulators and doctors scrambling to make sense of the data and leaving patients wondering, "What now?"

The drug, naproxen, has been prescribed as Aleve for joint and other body pain for 30 years.
From the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:
Israel grabs a share of U.S. drug market
Lenore Ward of Palm Harbor has been ordering prescription drugs through Canada for the past few years and has been pleased with the savings.

But several months ago, with the prospect of saving even more, she tried a different offshore drug source. After seeing an ad for in a Jewish newspaper, the 72-year-old library volunteer tried ordering generic Zyrtec through the Israeli prescription broker.

"I figured I'd take a chance," Ward said of the fast-acting imported antihistamine that was 70 percent cheaper than brand-name Zyrtec purchased locally.
From the Woonsocket (RI) Call:
Painkiller problems reveal risk of buying drugs from Canada, says pharmacy spokesman
Americans who ordered Vioxx from an online Canadian pharmacy may have signed away their rights to sue the manufacturer, according to Jack Hutson, executive director of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association.

At a news conference Wednesday in front of the Rhode Island Department of Health headquarters in Providence, Hutson said consumers who purchase prescription drugs from "so-called Canadian Internet pharmacies" may not have any legal recourse should a drug prove ineffective or harmful.
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Senators may block confirmation to force drug-import vote
A bipartisan group of senators may block former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's confirmation as health and human services secretary to force a vote on legalizing the reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from Canada.

Holding Leavitt's confirmation hostage is a strategy now under consideration by sponsors of legislation aimed at allowing Americans to buy cheaper prescription medications north of the border, according to a spokesman for Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
From the Holland (Mich.) Sentinel:
Store a pipeline to Canadian drugs
Helping consumers import cheaper drugs from Canadian pharmacies has become Elizabeth Gordon's mission.

Gordon, a Byron Center resident, will open a store Jan. 4 at 334 Washington Ave. in Zeeland that will help local residents have prescriptions filled in Canada.
From the Globe and Mail:
Blood-pressure drug risk found
One of the hottest-selling drugs for treating high blood pressure actually may increase the risk of heart attacks, Canadian researchers say.

Their article, published in the British Medical Journal, warns that although angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs, reduce blood pressure, they do not reduce the risk of heart attack.

In fact, ARBs appear to increase the risk by almost 20 per cent.
From Business Day:
Canadian lawsuit launched against Pfizer
A Canadian law firm has launched a 1.5 billion dollar (1.2 billion US) class action lawsuit against US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on behalf of a woman who claims she had heart problems after taking Celebrex.

The complaint was tabled by law firm McPhadden Samac Merner Darling against Pfizer Canada et Pfizer Inc., Bryan McPhadden, one of the firm's attorney's said.

The suit accused Pfizer of negligence and claims the lead complainant, a woman from Mississauga, near Toronto, suffered loss of earnings because of health problems allegedly associated with the anti-inflammatory drug.
From the Canadian Press:
Pharmacists increasingly count on slice of animal prescription business
Pharmacies are joining pet physiotherapists and kitty CAT scan operators in the race to break down barriers between human and animal health care.

A Quebec City pharmacy is the latest to start dispensing horse pills, puppy Prozac and other pet prescriptions alongside its human drug business. Pharmacists Rene Cote and Naceur Naimi have installed a special counter and dedicated about a quarter of their small downtown pharmacy to animals. They say it's the first such operation in the province.

Monday, December 27, 2004

From the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News:
Canadian Rx talks don’t concern mayor
Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. said he is not concerned about rumblings in Canada that the Canadian health minister may move to curtail the country’s growing online prescription drug industry.

"It hasn’t ended the program," Lambert said. "I’m not involving myself in Canadian law, but I just think that Americans, particularly seniors, are being gouged by these pharmaceutical companies. We have found a way around that -- to bring lower-cost prescriptions to people, and that is what we are going to continue to do."

From the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman:
Drug discount program yet to catch on
In the six months since the launch of UlsterRx, a discount prescription drug program for Ulster County residents, only 217 people have enrolled.

"That is significantly under what we would have expected," said Paula Schembri, vice president of sales and marketing for Arxcel, the Buffalo-area firm administering the program, which provides cardholders with discounts of up to 50 percent on prescription medications.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Drastic changes expected for Internet pharmacies
Five years ago, Daren Jorgenson was in the vanguard of the Internet pharmacy industry, well on his way to making millions by selling cheaper Canadian prescription drugs to uninsured Americans.

But Jorgenson says he has spent the last 21/2 years carefully preparing for the "new era" he always knew would come.

Jorgenson, who opened one of the country's first Internet pharmacies in 1999, believes that time is now and the industry in its current form will eventually die in Canada, undone by increasing pressure from Ottawa and pharmacy and medical watchdogs.

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
Report on drug imports doesn't worry suppliers
A new Bush administration report critical of the cross-border trade in prescription drugs may actually enhance it, advocates of the practice said Wednesday.

Moreover, it also might extend the life of pioneering efforts by states such as Minnesota and organizations such as the Minnesota Senior Federation, other experts said.

David MacKay, head of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, which represents 80 percent of the country's mail-order pharmacy business, said the worst thing the U.S. government could have done was open up wholesale importation from Canada.
From the Montreal Gazette:
Drug plan needs a prescription
Quebec's public drug-insurance plan started out five years and billions of dollars ago as a worthy initiative to make sure all Quebecers had access to needed medicines. In introducing it, the Parti Quebecois government wanted two things: to burnish its image as a friend to the impoverished and, in an apparent paradox, to have a greater proportion of Quebecers pay into a drug plan.

From the Houston Chronicle:
Bush stands fast against Canadian drugs
The Bush administration dug in its heels Tuesday against importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, questioning the cost savings and safety of such purchases. ADVERTISEMENT

Confronting the growing public and bipartisan popularity of such imports, the administration — which prior to last month's election suggested it could embrace importation — reverted to its earlier opposition and warned that legalization would hinder the development of new medicines.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

From Reuters:
Safe Drug Imports Would Be Difficult --US Study
Importing cheaper prescription medicines would require costly safety measures and save U.S. consumers little money, a government task force said on Tuesday in a report that lawmakers and others criticized as echoing drug industry scare tactics.

The long-awaited report to Congress did not say whether importation should be legal, but said any legislation to allow it must ensure imports meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.

From the Evansville (Ill.) Courier Press:
Fighting high drug prices
When Ron Westfall started having heart problems, his doctor prescribed a medication that cost $110 for 60 tablets. The cost was more than Westfall could comfortably afford, so he went on the Internet and found the exact same medication through a Canadian pharmacy at a savings of almost 40 percent.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
I-SaveRx hopes to be national model for drug importation, may expand
In I-SaveRx's first three months, only about 1,900 people enrolled in the multistate program to import cheaper prescription drugs from Europe and Canada, but administrators are already looking at ways to expand.

Scott McKibbin, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's point man for the program, says the administration is considering letting state employees and retirees participate, encouraging other states to join, and thinking about tapping additional countries as sources for the drugs.
From Health Canada:
For Health Care Professionals: Updated safety : Possible relationship of Aredia and/or Zometa with osteonecrosis of the jaw
Public Advisory: Updated safety : Possible relationship of Aredia and/or Zometa with osteonecrosis of the jaw
From the Canadian Press:
Celebrex a heart risk: Health Canada
Health Canada has pulled authorization of pain relief drug Celebrex for the treatment of a rare genetic disease, following "new information" linking the drug to an increased risk of heart attack.

The department has withdrawn authorization for Pfizer Inc., to market the drug for the treatment of Familial Adenomatous Polyposys, a disease "highly predictive" of colorectal cancer, spokesman Ryan Baker said late Friday.
From CBC News:
Task force report due amid speculation about a change on drug imports
With a U.S. task report expected any day on importing cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, there's growing speculation on both sides of the border that American officials may reverse course and finally endorse it.

Widespread pressure in Congress, states flouting import restrictions and polls suggesting it's a popular option among Americans who pay some of the highest drug prices in the world are also forcing the issue.
From Macleans:
News of Celebrex's increased heart risk leaves regulators scrambling
Health authorities were left scrambling Friday when the company that makes one of the world's most popular pain relievers admitted Celebrex appears to increase the risk of heart attack in users.

Pfizer Inc., which informed Health Canada of the finding Friday, announced it had no plans to pull the drug from the market, as competitor Merck did in September when it revealed Vioxx, another wildly popular drug in the same class, doubled users' risk of heart attack.
From the (Madison, Wisc.) Capital Times:
County may partner with Canada drug service
Dane County could be in the drug business if a Canadian prescription drug importation resolution comes to pass.

The measure, introduced at Thursday night's County Board meeting by Supervisors Dave de Felice, Brett Hulsey and Andy Olsen, calls for Dane County to partner with a Canadian import house to bring drugs into the United States, saving taxpayers and residents hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
From the Detroit News:
Warren seniors find cheap drugs in Canada
The city of Warren bused nine residents to Canada on Wednesday morning on a prescription drug pilgrimage.

The free trip was the first the city organized to help the community's senior citizens find lower-cost medications -- and more are likely to follow.

"We'll absolutely have more trips if we see a need for them," said Henry Bowman, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department. "We're going to take it one trip at a time."
From the Dodge City (Kan.) Daily Globe:
Debating merits of drug importation program
Wright resident Alfred Steimel sat at his kitchen table, pointing to boxes and bottles containing the medications he takes regularly.

Steimel takes venlafaxine, an antidepressant; terazosin, which is used to treat enlarged prostates; and the laxative Dulcolax. Venlafaxine and terazosin are prescription medications, but Dulcolax is not.
From Reuters (UK):
Canada Signals Crackdown on Internet Pharmacies
The Canadian government signaled on Thursday it was ready to crack down on Internet pharmacies that send cheap medicine to the United States, often without Canadian doctors having seen the patients.

The practice, which figured prominently in the U.S. presidential election campaign, has been seen as a way for American citizens and governments to save money. But it caused concern that it might lead to drug shortages in Canada.

"This is a struggle to make sure that drugs for all Canadians remain safe and adequate in terms of supply, and for all Canadians there's a pricing regime that's affordable," Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told reporters.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

From the Boston Globe:
Drugs from anywhere
At the back of the steel warehouse, pharmacists in lab coats are fetching bottles of prescription drugs from dimly lit shelves. They bear labels in French, Spanish, and Italian. Some come from New Zealand, 8,225 miles away.

Next stop: Minnesota.

The importation of drugs from abroad, which is illegal under US law, is going global, and this is the newest beachhead. Increasingly stymied at home, Canadian Internet pharmacies are branching out. They are setting up operations outside of Canada to buy drugs from around world and shipping them to US consumers.

From the Globe and Mail:
Drug-monitoring advocates gain heavyweight ally
Terence Young has been fighting for four years to find a way to protect Canadians from the sometimes deadly side effects of prescription drugs.His 15-year-old daughter Vanessa died of heart failure in 2000 after taking Prepulsid, a drug for indigestion that had already been linked to 10 deaths in Canada and 80 others in the U.S.

Now, it appears Mr. Young has a powerful ally in his bid to keep better tabs on the dangers of medications.

Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said this week that he wants a drug-monitoring system in which doctors and other health professionals would be legally bound to report serious adverse drug reactions.

From CBC News:
Dosanjh moves to make MDs report serious side-effects
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh wants to make it mandatory for physicians to report adverse drug reactions so that Canadians can have confidence their prescription drugs are safe.

At the moment, doctors voluntarily tell Health Canada when they suspect a side-effect from a prescription drug caused a patient to become ill or die.

From the Globe and Mail:
Ottawa approves drug for advanced Alzheimer's disease
Health Canada has approved for sale the first drug aimed at improving life for people with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease, and, by extension, for the people who look after them.

The drug, sold under the brand name Ebixa, does not cure or reverse the damage done by the devastating disease, which is estimated to affect about 238,000 Canadians.
Health Canada approves Alzheimer's drug Ebixa
A new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease has been approved by Health Canada. It doesn't cure the disease, but it can slow down its effects, giving patients more mental clarity.

The drug goes under the generic name memantine, and will be sold under the brand name Ebixa. It was discovered in Germany almost a decade ago and has been used in the United States for the last several years.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Dosanjh advises provinces not to help on-line drugstores
Provinces should not lower their regulatory standards to help Internet pharmacies, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh says, warning that his government might amend federal law to restrict the cross-border trade.

The minister was reacting yesterday to regulators in Manitoba who say they're working toward new rules that would allow Internet drugstores to satisfy federal Food and Drug Act requirements.

From the Winnipeg Sun:
Net-drug deal in works?
The Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association says it's now willing to work with Internet pharmacists to keep the mail-order medics in business. "We can come to a consensus with some of the stuff on the table," said Gary Cavanagh, president of the MPA -- which has been accused of trying to shut down Manitoba's 55-plus Internet pharmacies.
From the Boston Herald:
Canada prescription labs stunned by restriction
Internet pharmacists in Manitoba - the Mecca of Canada's $800-million-a-year online pharmacy industry - were pleading for their lives yesterday in the face of a government crackdown that could stem the flow of cheap prescription drugs to U.S. consumers.

In a little-noticed move that caught the industry by surprise, the Manitoba Pharmacy Association, the province's main regulatory agency, said last October that it would require Canadian doctors to examine American patients before co-signing their prescriptions.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Documents show Glaxo antitrust violations, Hatch says
Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has incriminating documents from GlaxoSmithKline that show that the pharmaceutical giant broke state antitrust laws as it pressured Canadian pharmacies not to sell discount prescriptions in Minnesota, Hatch's office said in a motion filed Monday with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Hatch and his staff are seeking court approval to allow them to release internal GlaxoSmithKline documents that purportedly prove the attorney general's assertion that the drugmaker and others colluded to stop the importation of lower-priced drugs into the state by threatening to cut off supplies to Canadian distributors.
From theGlobe and Mail:
Ottawa considers changing patent rules
The federal government has proposed amending the country's drug patent regulations to eliminate the drug industry's ability to delay generic competition with pre-emptive lawsuits.

Known as evergreening, the practice now allows drug manufacturers, which already have 20-year patent protection, to trigger further 24-month extensions, making it difficult for generic firms to produce cheaper copies of brand-name drugs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Manitoba on-line pharmacies given go-ahead -- with restrictions
Internet pharmacies can operate legally if they follow stricter standards, the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association has decided, after the regulator and Canada's largest provincial group of on-line drugstores met yesterday to talk about their differences.

Gary Cavanagh, president of the pharmaceutical association, said his group still has not decided what new rules the Internet operators would need to follow, but he is optimistic that Manitoba can become the first province to amend its regulations in a way that lets Internet pharmacies circumvent the usual requirement that a Canadian doctor see a patient before writing a prescription.
Internet pharmacies want changes
Internet pharmacists plan to call on Canada's health minister to change federal law to allow them to directly fill U.S. prescriptions.

The Canadian International Pharmacists Association has asked for a meeting with Ujjal Dosanjh to request the change.

From Newsday (NY):
County gives residents option of buying cheaper Canadian drugs
County lawmakers here will allow residents to buy cheaper medicine from across the border in Canada, joining a growing number of U.S. state and municipalities in defiance of the federal government.

Lewis County officials have agreed to include CanaRX Services Inc., an Ontario-based pharmaceutical giant, in its health insurance package offered to 750 county employees and their families, said Bruce Krug, the county's legislative chairman.

Monday, December 13, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Manitoba's pharmacy watchdog offers sliver of hope to Internet pharmacies
Internet pharmacists in Manitoba hoping to avert a regulatory crackdown that could drive the industry out of the province, if not Canada, may have pried open a sliver of opportunity Monday.

A meeting between the industry's lobby group in the province, the deputy health minister and pharmacy and medical regulators ended with public assurances of co-operation, mutual goals and a promise to meet again in a few weeks.
From the Madison Daily Leader:
Canadian RX Outlet opens in Madison
A business that will help area residents connect with Canadian pharmacies has opened on Egan Avenue.

Canadian RX Outlet, operated by Sherry VanLiere, has opened in the Lakeview Offices. The purpose of the office, which is open from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., is to provide literature and forms so individuals can order prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies.
From Health Canada:
Bextra (valdecoxib) - Cardiovascular Risks and Serious Skin Reactions
Dear Health Care Professional,

Pfizer Canada Inc., following discussions with Health Canada, would like to inform you of new safety information for BEXTRA* (valdecoxib) tablets. The Product Monograph for BEXTRA is being revised to reflect the following...more.
From Health Canada:
Health Canada warns Canadians that certain lots of a sedative (Novo-Lorazem) may contain pills of a different drug
Health Canada is advising consumers taking the sedative Novo-Lorazem to check their bottles for pills of a different shape and size, after a report alerted Health Canada to the presence of Novo-Glyburide (an oral hypoglycemic) pills in certain Novo-Lorazem bottles.

Novo-Glyburide is generally prescribed to diabetics to lower blood sugar. The use of this drug by non-diabetics or by diabetics already taking other medications used to lower blood sugar, might severely lower blood sugar, which in rare cases could result in coma and/or death.
From the San Diego Union Tribune: >FDA warns of recall of unapproved Canadian drug sold to Americans over the Internet
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Wednesday regarding the use of Carbolith capsules, a treatment for manic-depressive illness that is distributed by a Canadian company.

The drug is not approved by the FDA, but Americans could purchase it on the Internet.

Valeant Canada Limited issued a recall of Carbolith 150mg capsules because the company said the product may not deliver adequate amounts of the drug to ensure effective treatment, the warning said.

From the Arkansas City (Kansas) Traveler:
New drug plan: Cheap drugs or bad medicine
Some Ark City residents, including Pauline Bogart, are excited that Kansas joined Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois in the I-SaveRx Prescription Drug Importation Plan.

It is the first program in the U.S. that allows citizens to purchase lower cost prescription drugs from approved pharmacies in Europe, Ireland and Canada over the phone, according to the I-SaveRx website.
Canada not the drug store of the U.S.: Dosanjh
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is calling on doctors and pharmacists to stop the "unethical practice" of selling prescription drugs to Americans.

The cross-border drug trade has reached a new milestone. People in five U.S. states, with a combined population greater than that of Canada, are now being urged by their governments to buy their medicine through Canadian Internet pharmacies.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

From the New York Times:
Internet Drug Exporters Feel Pressure in Canada
Five years ago, a young Manitoba pharmacist fresh out of school started selling Nicorette chewing gum over e-Bay. From that modest beginning the Canadian online pharmacy industry took off, racking up cross-border sales of more than $800 million a year, upsetting United States drug companies and prompting a debate over prescription drug prices in the American presidential election.

But now an industry that thrived on discrepancies between the country's regulated drug prices and America's higher, largely unregulated prices has run into regulatory, political and economic pressures at home that promise not just to change the business fundamentally, but possibly to drive it out of Canada altogether.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

From CBC News:
Heart warnings added for painkiller Bextra
Health Canada said it will issue a new alert about the painkiller Bextra as regulators in the U.S. said they were strengthening warnings about the drug.

Bextra belongs to a class of drugs called COX-2 selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is used to treat arthritis and menstrual pain.
From the Chattanoogan (Tenn.):
Sen. Jackson Advocates Allowing Prescription Drugs From Canada
Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) today called for legislative action on prescription drug costs. He addressed the issue of rising drug costs at a meeting of the TennCare Oversight Committee on which he serves.

“Tennesseans could save millions of dollars if we imported prescription drugs from Canada,” Sen. Jackson said. “Just looking at the top 20 drugs used by TennCare, taxpayers could save $181 million if we imported those same drugs from Canada.”

Thursday, December 09, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Breast cancer drug shows better results at preventing return of disease
A newer drug clearly outperforms tamoxifen at preventing breast cancer from returning and should become the first-choice treatment for most women who have had the disease, doctors are reporting.

The drug, Arimidex, might be able to prevent 70 to 80 per cent of the most common type of tumours that occur in women after menopause, compared with the 50 per cent that tamoxifen is credited with warding off, their research suggests.
FDA issues warning on Canadian Carbolith
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Wednesday regarding the use of Carbolith capsules, a treatment for manic-depressive illness that is distributed by a Canadian company.

The drug is not approved by the FDA, but Americans could purchase it on the Internet.

Valeant Canada Limited issued a recall of Carbolith 150mg capsules because the company said the product may not deliver adequate amounts of the drug to ensure effective treatment, the warning said.
From the Globe and Mail:
Shut down Internet drug retailing, Boudria says
A U.S. company's pitch to Canadian doctors to write prescriptions for Internet pharmacies in exchange for big bucks is further evidence the government must shut down the industry, Liberal MP Don Boudria said yesterday.

A flyer that some doctors recently received asks: "Are you interested in making $100,000 to $135,000 U.S. a year?"

From the Edmonton Sun:
Pharmacists eye medicinal pot market
Pharmacists are the best-placed professionals to dispense marijuana for medical purposes if it's ever made a fully legal drug, says the association representing them. "If marijuana becomes a scheduled drug that becomes prescribed by a physician, then it only makes sense that pharmacists, as the drug therapy experts, dispense this drug as they would any other drug," said Peggy Berndt, spokesman for the Pharmacists Association of Alberta.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Canadian-Drug Plan Stalled by Legal Risk
A proposal that Orange County employees buy name-brand prescription drugs from Canada at a discount has been stalled by concerns that the county could be sued by the federal government.

Supervisors were set to consider the proposal Tuesday, but board member Chuck Smith asked for a two-week postponement, until his last meeting before retiring. He said in an interview that he hoped to convince enough of his colleagues that his plan is defensible.
From the Fort Frances (Ont.) Times:
Meeting to discuss Internet pharmacists
Manitoba Health minister Tim Sale has called a meeting to discuss the role of Internet druggists and to try to quell health concerns from the body that governs the province’s pharmacies.

He said the meeting next Monday involving the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association, the Manitoba Trade Department, and Internet pharmacists could be key to keeping as many as 150 Winnipeg jobs at, which is now threatening to pull up stakes.
From CBC News:
Review of arthritis drugs raises questions about role of regulators
The Vioxx recall is prompting serious questions about the ability of government regulators to remove dangerous drugs from the market.

The arthritis drug Vioxx was pulled from the market on Sept 30. Now drug regulators in Canada, the U.S. and Europe are reviewing the safety of all arthritis drugs in the same class as Vioxx, called COX-2 inhibitors.
From the Portland (ME) Press Herald:
Importing saves city, workers in drug costs
The controversial practice of ordering prescription drugs from Canada has saved the city of Portland and its employees $42,000 so far this year - even with participation at less than 5 percent.

Savings through the Portland Meds program are on track to top $100,000 by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, city officials say. That's tiny in a health care budget of more than $10 million, but officials say any savings are significant to taxpayers and stand to grow if participation in the program increases.

From CBC News:
ID Biomedical elects to sell surplus vaccine to Canada, not the U.S.
ID Biomedical, Canada's main supplier of flu vaccine, has elected to sell its remaining surplus doses of vaccine in Canada, not the United States, the company announced Tuesday.

The company had been in negotiations since early October with U.S. public health officials keen to buy the 1.2 million doses to help that country with its acute flu vaccine shortage this year. The Vancouver-based company said in a statement that it was selling the doses to the Canadian market on the request of the federal government.

Monday, December 06, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
On-line drug retailers bid to stay in business
Internet pharmacists will offer to bind themselves to strict new standards during last-minute talks with Manitoba's government and pharmacy association next week, hoping to avoid a looming crackdown on the controversial industry.

If the offer isn't accepted, on-line drug retailers fear provincial regulators will make good on threats to start revoking their pharmacy licences next month. Some have already planned to move their businesses out of the province or out of the country.

From CBC Manitoba:
Internet pharmacies put on notice
Manitoba's internet pharmacists are calling it a declaration of war.

Their licensing body, the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association, has sent a letter to its members warning of a crackdown.

The letter urges pharmacies to stop filling prescriptions if the signing doctor hasn't seen the patient. For some prescriptions the patients are hundreds of miles away in the U.S. and a local doctor has co-signed a U.S. prescription without meeting with the patient.
Internet pharmacies blamed for drug shortages
Some Canadians say they are having problems getting supplies of their prescription drugs and they blame the Internet pharmacy business for it.

"There was never a problem before and then all of a sudden, when the drugs started going to the U.S., we started having a hard time getting them here," Virginia Goski tells CTV News.

Goski uses a cholesterol-lowering drug called Questran. However, her pharmacy has been out of it for weeks and she's had to switch drugs.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

From the Alton (Ill.) Telegraph:
State aging official touts prescription drug program for seniors
Even if only one person benefits from a new prescription drug importation program, Charles Johnson believes it will be worth it.

Johnson, director of the Illinois Department on Aging, met Friday with senior citizens in Alton to discuss the I-SaveRx program instituted two months ago by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. As of early this week, only 1,206 people out of a total population of nearly 24 million in three states had signed up for the program, which involves importing prescription drugs from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
From the Canadian Press:
Health Canada issues warning sedative bottle may contain additional drug
Health Canada is advising consumers taking the sedative Novo-Lorazem to check their bottles for pills of a different shape and size, after being alerted that certain bottles of the drug may also contain Novo-Glyburide, an oral hypoglycemic.

Novo-Glyburide is generally prescribed to diabetics to lower blood sugar. Use of this drug by non-diabetics, or by diabetics already taking other medications for this purpose, could severely lower blood sugar and, in rare cases, result in coma or death, Health Canada warned.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

From the Halifax Daily News:
Health Canada issues warning sedative bottle may contain additional drug
Health Canada is advising consumers taking the sedative Novo-Lorazem to check their bottles for pills of a different shape and size, after being alerted that certain bottles of the drug may also contain Novo-Glyburide, an oral hypoglycemic.

Novo-Glyburide is generally prescribed to diabetics to lower blood sugar. Use of this drug by non-diabetics, or by diabetics already taking other medications for this purpose, could severely lower blood sugar and, in rare cases, result in coma or death, Health Canada warned.
From WLNS-TV (MI):
Canada Wants to Stop US Prescription Buyers
Americans have been turning to Canadian pharmacies in huge numbers for prescription drugs at much lower prices. N ow, some Canadians are saying that has to stop.

Carol Applebaugh, cancer survivor: "This is Tamoxiphen, which I take for breast cancer, and I'm almost done with this."

At her home near Chicago, you can't blame cancer survivor Carol Applebaugh for buying drugs from Canada.
From the East Valley (AZ) Tribune:
Mesa resident helps people get cheaper drugs from Canada
The legality may be open to question, but that isn’t preventing businesses that help consumers buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs from entering the East Valley market.

Canadian Expressway, a Shawnee, Okla.-based company, has designated an east Mesa resident, Diana Gavel, to be its Arizona representative to help seniors save money on medications.

Canadian Expressway bills itself as an information service center providing prices on medications from three licensed Canadian pharmacies and two from the United States, giving consumers a chance to compare prices and pick the cheapest supplier. All the customer needs is to provide a written doctor’s prescription and fill out a form that outlines his or her medical history.
From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
Pharmacy board denounces drug importation plan
The State Board of Pharmacy criticized Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' plan to help residents acquire lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and Europe.

The six-member board said Friday that the safety of drugs imported through the I-SaveRx program - in which Wisconsin and Missouri also are participating - could not be guaranteed.

"The debate over drug importation and the higher price of prescription drugs in the U.S. has distracted the public from the important issue of health risks counterfeit medications pose to the public," the board said in a statement.
From the Detroit News:
Druggists would buy Canadian
A majority of pharmacists would buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and sell them in the United States if the practice were legal, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Nearly 70 percent of pharmacists said they would import medicines from Canada if allowed, based on a survey of 401 pharmacists in Michigan, Illinois, Florida and Minnesota.

"There are pharmacists out there that would really like to find ways to get their patients less expensive medications," said David Nau, one of the study's authors and a professor at U-M's College of Pharmacy. "They understand there are patients who have difficulty paying for their medications and would like to help them."

From the Canadian Press:
Dosanjh asks provinces to be vigilant with Internet pharmacies
On the heels of his well-publicized call for medical watchdogs to crack down on doctors working for Internet pharmacies, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is asking his provincial counterparts to do their part.

In a letter written late last month, Dosanjh told provincial health ministers he expects their regulatory authorities "to remain vigilant in enforcing their standards of professional conduct."
From the National Post:
Mail-order proposal to end thousands of jobs, pharmacists warn
Internet pharmacists are warning that thousands of jobs would be lost if proposed legislation introduced in Ottawa last week makes it into law. Bill C-282, which was introduced by Wajid Khan, the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Ontario riding of Mississauga-Streetsville, seeks to eliminate the booming cross-border mail-order drug trade, according to the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.
From the (Easton, Penn.) Express Times:
Council president wants Canadian drugs
City Council President J. Michael Schweder proposes the city buy its prescription drugs from Canada, which he says will lower the city's growing health care costs.

Schweder said he models his plan after several U.S. cities that work with Canadian re-importation companies. He also proposes the city offer the service to senior citizens who reside in Bethlehem.

Mayor John Callahan's 2005 budget proposal includes a $900,000 increase in total medical costs, from $4.5 million this year to $5.4 million next year.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Internet pioneer closes Manitoba pharmacy; blames dollar, uncertain climate
Just one year ago, Mark Rzepka was opening a $1-million Internet pharmacy in the small Manitoba town of Niverville believing he would be able to quadruple his staff within 12 months.

On Wednesday, the pharmacist considered one of the industry's pioneers issued layoff notices to all 10 employees at Mediplan Health Consulting. The pharmacy just south of Winnipeg will close Dec. 31 and consolidate operations at the parent office in Minnedosa, Man.
From the Barre Montpelier (VT) Times Argus:
Feds want state's drug importation suit tossed out
The Bush administration on Monday asked a federal judge to throw out Vermont's first-in-the-nation lawsuit seeking to overturn the government's ban on importing prescription drugs from Canada.

In saying the state's arguments "are simply without legal basis," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella wrote that Vermont's attempt to force a court to grant permission for drug reimportation is inappropriate.

"The state's claims have no basis in law and should be dismissed," Perella said in a response filed late Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Burlington. "The actions the state asserts that the federal defendants must take — permitting foreign drugs to be freely imported and approving (Vermont's) proposed plan for importing drugs from Canada — are directly contrary to current law."
From the Kansas City Star:
Kansas joins prescription drug program
Kansas has joined a group of states that allow citizens to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced today.

Under the plan, called I-SaveRx, Kansas residents may save 25 to 50 percent of the cost for commonly prescribed brand-name drugs. Kansas is the fourth state to join the I-Save program, joining Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, which joined in October. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich joined Sebelius at a Topeka senior center today to announce the plan.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

From the National Post:
Parents of woman who died of adverse drug reaction demand answers
The parents of a 22-year-old nursing student who died two years ago after a doctor's prescription turned deadly went public Monday in their battle to get to the bottom of their daughter's death.

Martha Murray was found dead from a heart attack in September 2002 after she'd been prescribed lithium to treat her bipolar disorder.
From New York Newsday:
Federal government sues to stop importation of drugs from Canada
The U.S. government on Monday asked a federal court to shut down a New York company that allegedly imported prescription drugs from Canada for resale in the United States.

Claire Ruggiero and her daughter-in-law, Christine Ruggiero, introduced drugs to the U.S. market that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit doesn't specify an amount, but the government has asked the court to shut down the Ruggiero's business, Canada Care Drugs, based in Goshen, N.Y.
From the Canadian Press:
Fabry patients fight on after panel urges governments not to cover drug costs
Patients suffering from a devastating and fatal condition known as Fabry disease are vowing to fight on after a drug review panel advised governments across the country not to cover the extraordinarily high cost of the only drugs available to treat them.

"The patients are obviously very, very anxious," says Fabry patient Ed Koning, his voice rising with anger as he discusses the recommendation of the Common Drug Review on the two drugs, Fabrazyme and Replagal.

Monday, November 29, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Pill shortages hard to swallow, pharmacists say
Drug shortages are approaching epidemic levels in Canada, according to the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

The association says 80 per cent of pharmacists who responded to a poll had experienced supply shortfalls in the previous week - forcing them to buy outside their usual channels and talk to physicians and patients about shifting to equivalent medications.
From the Peoria (IL) Journal Star:
Drug plan slow to catch on
Nearly two months after the introduction of the I-SaveRx prescription drug program, the plan that Gov. Rod Blagojevich likened to a "prairie fire" is barely smoldering. Nearly 1,100 people - out of an estimated 5 million uninsured residents in participating states Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri - have completed enrollment forms and ordered prescription drugs from the program's wholesalers and pharmacies in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Central Illinois senior citizen advocates point to poor timing and natural caution as reasons for poor sign-up to the program that allows importation of prescription drugs despite federal regulations against the practice.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Fromthe Barrie (Ont.) Advance:
OxyContin quickly becoming a problem in North America
Since its launch in 1996, OxyContin has become North America's most prescribed painkiller.
On the street, where its illicit use grows, it is known as "killer," a term Newmarket's Sandra Norris can attest is only too appropriate.

Norris, a quality-improvement specialist with York Region, looked back to last May 28. It was her 15th wedding anniversary, but it will be forever remembered as the day her nephew, Chad Gardiner, died. He committed suicide, leaping from the top level of a parking garage in London, Ont. He was 26, and addicted to OxyContin.

Friday, November 26, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Agency seeks to tighten guidelines
The agency that approves the cost of prescription drugs in Canada wants to tighten its guidelines in the wake of widespread price increases pushed through by the pharmaceutical industry this year.

“I do not want to be alarmist, but I do want to raise an alarm,” Robert Elgie, chairman of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, told a conference of pharmaceutical executives in Toronto earlier this week.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

From the Woonsocket (RI) Call:
Seniors call ‘fowl’ over Canadian drugs
The Gray Panthers of Rhode Island have bestowed their second annual Turkey of the Year award to the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association and the Rhode Island Board of Pharmacy for their resistance to re-importing prescription drugs from Canada.

"We wanted them to work with us and they are not working with us," Panthers President Irene Santos said Wednesday. "They say we can’t buy Canadian drugs because they aren’t safe. What do they think we are, stupid?
From Canada East:
Government programs routinely overpay for prescription drugs: auditor
The federal government is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars more than necessary for its prescription-drug benefit programs, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said Tuesday.

The government is the fourth-largest buyer of prescription drugs in the country, behind Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, but doesn't have a policy to buy drugs in bulk or demand generic alternatives to pricier brand names.

On one class of stomach ulcer drug alone, Ottawa could have saved $13 million in 2002-03 had it ensured use of the lowest cost alternative, said the auditor general.
From the Globe and Mail:
Little done to rectify problems, Fraser says
The number of people who obtained 50 or more prescriptions in a three-month period through Health Canada's prescription-drug program has tripled over the past four years even though the issue was raised by the federal Auditor-General in 2000.

That is just one of the many problems with federal drug-benefit plans highlighted in a report released yesterday by Auditor-General Sheila Fraser, who expressed exasperation at the department's inability to rectify the situation.
From the Globe and Mail:
Bone loss could be permanent, contraceptive maker warns
Women using the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera can lose significant bone mineral density, damage that may be irreversible and puts them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis, the drug's maker is warning.

In a letter being sent to health professionals who prescribe the drug, Dr. Bernard Prigent, medical director of Pfizer Canada Inc., said "bone loss is greater with increasing duration and may not be completely reversible."
From the Montreal Gazette :
Danger link gets stronger for heart drug
Health Canada has received more reports of a rare but potentially serious muscle reaction in people taking the anti-cholesterol pill Crestor - a top-selling new drug in Canada that a U.S. drug official has named as one of five drugs that should be looked at more closely.

As of August 31, five more cases of rhabdomyolysis - a breakdown in muscle tissue that can lead to kidney damage - had been reported in Crestor users since Health Canada advised Canadians in June of a possible link between Crestor and the muscle-wasting condition.

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Pharmacies ask Lynch to block imports
The Rhode Island Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores yesterday called on Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch to formally intervene in the state's attempt to license Canadian pharmacies to do business in Rhode Island.

The groups called the legislation passed this year "controversial and illegal" under federal law. They said Lynch should take action due to concerns about who would vouch for the safety and efficacy of any imported medication.

The state Department of Health is drafting regulations to put the licensing law into effect early next year, but a top health official has said the state expects the matter to be challenged in court before that.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

From the Pawtucket Times:
Lynch calls on FDA for clear drug regulations
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is "shirking its responsibilities" by failing to adopt regulations to allow the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada as Congress has directed it to, Attorney General Patrick Lynch said Thursday.

"Congress already passed legislation saying that they should move on it," Lynch said. "They are putting it off on the states. It puts everyone in an awkward position. It puts people at risk. We need regulations."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

From the Boston Globe:
Novartis CEO: Easing rules on drug imports may loom
Novartis AG chief executive Daniel Vasella yesterday said that he ''wouldn't be surprised" if US regulators ease rules limiting the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada, but cautioned that would damage the industry's financial footing and wouldn't help patients much.

Speaking to a luncheon sponsored by the Boston College Chief Executives' Club at the Boston Harbor Hotel, Vasella, head of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, echoed the concerns of other drug executives who worry that proposals in Washington might scare away investors.
From Turn to 10 (RI):
AG Won't Issue Legal Opinion On Drug Imports
Attorney General Patrick Lynch said he won't issue an advisory opinion on the legality of importing prescription drugs from Canada as the Rhode Island Pharmacists' Association had asked him to do.

Lynch said he cannot issue advisory opinions in response to requests from private groups -- only in answer to requests from government agencies.
From the National Post:
Report reveals internet drug transgressions
Internet pharmacies were improperly shipping heat-sensitive drugs, filling rubber-stamped prescriptions, and acting as wholesalers to other stores without a licence, Health Canada revealed yesterday after inspecting a small sample of the mail-order drug businesses.

It is the first look by the federal regulator at companies that sell as much $1- billion a year in medication at cheaper Canadian prices to Americans, and is likely to fuel controversy surrounding the booming industry.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Town eyes offering drugs from Canada for workers
In anticipation of contract negotiations with three labor unions in which health care will a key issue, town officials have been studying the option of buying prescription drugs from Canada for municipal employees.

Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer said several Massachusetts communities are saving money that way, although he acknowledged that safety concerns and a shifting regulatory landscape may pose obstacles.

West Warwick spends more than $500,000 per year on employees' prescription drugs, Bauer said. Drugs often sell for substantially less in Canada because of government price controls.
From the Canadian Press:
Tracing Internet pharmacy co-signing a Sherlock Holmes job for regulators
It will take more than tough talk from politicians or changes to federal law to catch Canadian doctors who co-sign Internet pharmacy prescriptions, say medical and pharmacy watchdogs.

Regulatory bodies for doctors and pharmacists say tracking guilty doctors has become a frustrating, time-consuming Sherlock Holmes exercise that is further complicated by provincial laws and confidentiality rules. "The access to the information is severely restricted," said Dr. Bill Pope, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.

From CBC News:
Prescription drug shipments to be tagged electronically
Three large drug manufacturers in the United States say they plan to add radio transmitter tags to bottles of pills to prevent counterfeiting and theft.

The transmitters will be used on larger bottles sent from factories to pharmacies, not on the containers bought by consumers.

Purdue Pharma announced it will begin electronic tracking of shipments of OxyContin, a narcotic painkiller, to Wal-Mart and wholesaler H.D. Smith.

From the Lakeland (FL) Ledger:
Drug Service Thrives Without Ads
Discount Medicine of Canada owner Melinda Liddy quit advertising her business five months ago, when the Florida Department of Health ordered her to stop helping customers obtain medication from Canada.

Though you won't catch any newspaper or radio ads for the company, customers can still walk into Liddy's store if they want help finding cheaper drugs from up north. And despite the federal ban on imported prescriptions, Liddy says that Polk's demand for discounted medication has continued to grow.
Why Canada Won't Be Our Pharmacy
As the flu-vaccine shortage began, Canada quickly emerged as a potential life buoy. Ujjal Dosanjh, Canada's Health Minister, personally phoned Tommy Thompson, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and offered to share whatever surplus Canada had to help meet the 48-million-dose shortfall. "I assured him that if there was anything we could do to assist our American friends, we would be happy to do that," Dosanjh told TIME. But it wasn't long before Dosanjh was spelling out the limits of what his country could do. "Canada cannot be the drugstore of the United States," he said last week in a speech at Harvard. "Neither American consumers nor Canadian suppliers should have any illusions otherwise."
From USA Today:
Looking north for flu vaccine
Many of internist Michael Chase's older patients order prescription drugs from Canada to save money. Given the U.S. shortage, they figured, why not order a flu shot along with their cholesterol-lowering medication?

Chase had no vaccine. His usual supplier had ordered it from Chiron, which had been expected to supply up to 48 million doses to the United States before British authorities suspended its license.

So Chase and his partner, Philip O'Keefe, who practice in San Francisco, followed the example of Illinois, New Mexico and New York City and sought flu vaccine from foreign sources.

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Brown wants R.I. to join prescription drug-import program
Secretary of State Matthew Brown asked Governor Carcieri today to enroll Rhode Island in a new drug-import program to make cheaper prescription drugs available from Canada and Europe despite a federal ban on the imports.

Illinois and Wisconsin launched the program, called I-SaveRx, in October to offer savings on about 100 medications of up to 50 percent off U.S. retail prices. Missouri also has joined.

"This is a great opportunity for Rhode Islanders to get the safe, affordable prescription drugs they need," Brown said in a statement. "I urge Governor Carcieri to enroll Rhode Island in I-SaveRx immediately."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

From the Vancouver Sun:
Prozac and painkillers found in tap water
The federal government's first study of pharmaceuticals in drinking water will confirm traces of common painkillers, anti-cholesterol drugs and the antidepressant Prozac are ending up in the treated water that Canadians drink, CanWest News Service has learned.

A study by researchers from the National Water Research Institute for Health and Environment Canada, designed to gauge how efficiently plants removed traces of drugs from drinking water, found nine different drugs in water samples taken near 20 drinking water treatment plants across southern Ontario.
From The Globe and Mail:
Alberta pharmacists surprised as drugs delisted
The Alberta government surprised pharmacists and some patients this week by delisting about a dozen generic drugs it previously covered.

The unexpected move will have a financial impact on seniors and others on fixed incomes who relied on the generics but will now have to switch to brand names in some cases, the Pharmacists Association of Alberta warned Thursday.
From The Globe and Mail:
Web pharmacies fear net tightening
Canada's Internet pharmacies warn that they face devastation if Ottawa forces doctors to stop approving mail-order prescriptions for U.S. patients without examining them personally.

"It could be very detrimental, if not deadly, for our industry," said David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, whose members do the bulk of cross-border business in this market.
From Reuters:
Canada Not Trying to Kill Web Drugstores, PM Say
Prime Minister Paul Martin denied on Friday that Canada was trying to drive Internet pharmacies out of business, despite Ottawa's recent complaints over drug sales to the United States.

Martin also denied the warnings were linked to any effort to improve relations with President Bush, who has objected to U.S. states and cities attempting to use Canada as a source of less expensive medicines.

"The two are entirely unrelated," Martin told reporters in Vancouver.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
A go slow approach on drug plan
A top state health official said yesterday that he expects court action will likely prevent the state from licensing Canadian pharmacies to sell prescription medications to Rhode Island residents.

Because of that, said Donald C. Williams, head of health services regulation, the Department of Health has taken a bare-minimum approach to writing the regulations required to put the recently passed state law into action.

"I don't want the Department of Health to invest its limited resources -- extremely limited resources -- on a wild goose chase," Williams told an invited gathering of pharmacists, trade group representatives, activists for the elderly and others at a meeting yesterday morning.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Dosanjh threatens to cut off Web drugs
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh says he will ensure the safety of the Canadian drug supply, even if it means choking off the flow of cheap Internet drugs to the United States.

The government is considering cracking down on doctors whose signatures allow the export of cheap Internet drugs, he told CTV News in an interview yesterday.

From the National Post:
Dosanjh questions ethics of Internet pharmacists
Canada's health minister says doctors and pharmacists who give prescriptions to Americans without meeting them first are being unethical.

Ujjal Dosanjh made the blunt charge while in Vancouver on Tuesday, but spokesmen for the bodies that regulate pharmacists and doctors say the charge is unfair and misinformed.
From Yahoo News:
Canada Warns It Cannot Be the Drugstore to U.S.
Canada warned the United States on Wednesday that it would not be able to meet its prescription drug needs.

"To me it is a matter of common sense that Canada cannot be the drugstore of the United States. Neither American consumers nor Canadian suppliers should have any illusions otherwise," Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said.

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Health Dept. official: Canadian pharmacy licensing law may end up in court
A senior official at the state Department of Health said today it is "highly unlikely" the department will be able to license Canadian pharmacies to sell prescription drugs in Rhode Island by the Jan. 15 deadline set by the General Assembly.

Donald Williams, associate director for health services regulation at the health department, said he expects that the law adopted by the General Assembly permitting the state to license Canadian pharmacies will end up in court because it is opposed by several powerful constituencies, including the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacists in Rhode Island.

From The Globe and Mail:
U.S. bars Web drugs, but lets in flu vaccine
An Internet pharmacy has sold 400 doses of flu vaccine to a California doctor, raising questions about whether drug regulators in the United States are following their own rules., a Winnipeg company, packed the vials into a cooler and shipped them to San Francisco last month via FedEx. Another shipment is planned soon, before the pharmacy's refrigerator shelves are emptied of vaccine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously stopped such bulk imports of unlicensed foreign drugs. The vaccine shipment was delayed at an airport hangar for eight days, but allowed to continue its journey.

Monday, November 08, 2004

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
State site registers lackluster drug sales
A state Web site for ordering prescription drugs from Canada may be saving Wisconsin residents money, but few are taking advantage of it.

In the first six months of operation, the three Canadian pharmacies working with Wisconsin residents report filling just 2,299 prescriptions, and the number is declining. In the first month, the Canadian pharmacies filed 765 prescriptions; they filled only 364 in August, the last month for which statistics were available.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who launched the Web site,, in February, said he wasn't disappointed by the site's lackluster business so far.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

From the Montreal Gazette:
Drug studies bewilder consumers
Another day, another prescription-drug demolition. This time, the headline targets atenolol, a beta-blocker used by thousands of Canadians to combat high blood pressure and, presumably, to stave off strokes and heart attacks.

Well, it does no such thing, say the authors of a review in the Lancet, a muckraking British medical journal that regularly publishes explosive findings about everything from genetically modified foods to civilian mortality in Iraq. Not only does atenolol perform no better than a placebo in the cardiac-arrest department, it creates "significantly higher mortality" when compared with other high-blood-pressure prescription drugs.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

From Health Canada:
Drug stability failure of a few lots of Carbolith 150 mg capsules
Dear Health Care Professional,

Valeant Canada Limited (formerly ICN Canada Limited) is advising consumers about a recall involving lots of Carbolith 150 mg capsules from pharmacies and wholesalers across Canada.

As a precaution, Valeant Canada Limited recommends physicians to re-evaluate patients on Carbolith 150 mg by monitoring serum lithium levels and exercising clinical and laboratory surveillance over possible side effects.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Warren joins trend to Canada drug-shopping
Bucking government warnings about importing drugs, and hoping to help its 30,000 residents 65 or older, Warren on Friday became the largest Michigan city to offer free bus trips to Canada so senior citizens can buy cheaper prescription medicines.

Officials of Michigan's third-largest city said they expect residents will be able to save 40 percent to 70 percent.

The city patterned the program on one started three years ago in Westland that has been duplicated in Dearborn Heights.
From (New York) Newsday:
Bush re-election gives struggling drugmakers status quo benefits
The pharmaceutical industry stands to benefit from President Bush's re-election, but it's from maintenance of the status quo rather than any new policies favoring drug makers.

"In the scheme of things, it doesn't have any meaningful impact on the industry," said independent pharmaceuticals analyst Hemant Shah of HKS & Co. in Warren, N.J.

Industry analysts say that with Bush still in the White House and Republicans tightening their control of Congress, government price controls for prescription medicines won't be on the table. The free-market system, where demand drives price, will continue, said Barbara Ryan, a pharmaceuticals analyst and managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities.
From CBC News:
Seniors in Warren, Mich., offered bus trips to Canada to get prescription drugs
The city's 30,000 residents 65 or older have a new option when it comes to paying for their prescription drugs.

On Friday, Warren joined other municipalities across the state in offering free bus trips to Canada so senior citizens can buy cheaper prescription medicines.

Officials for Michigan's third-largest city said they expect residents will be able to save 40 to 70 per cent.
From the National Post:
Drug won't stop heart attacks
A blood pressure drug taken by hundreds of thousands of Canadians is no better than a dummy pill at preventing heart attacks or deaths from heart disease, new research suggests.

As well, atenolol was worse than several other blood pressure medicines in preventing cardiac-related deaths or stroke, the international study found.
From the Edmonton Sun:
At-risk people go first in line for flu shots
Some 75 private flu clinics in the city have been cancelled because of increased public demand for vaccinations. The Victorian Order of Nurses, which scheduled the Edmonton clinics, had to cancel clinics in private pharmacies like Costco Wholesale because Canada's two suppliers have to immunize more at-risk patients than in previous years.

VON has contracts with pharmacies to provide the vaccine to people that aren't in the high-risk group.

"The government is making an effort to get at-risk people the vaccine. The people that we were doing are healthy," said Sheri St. Arnaud, VON's city clinical co-ordinator.
From CNN:
Pfizer faces Canadian suit over drug Celebrex
A Canadian class-action lawsuit has been launched against Pfizer Inc. alleging that its arthritis drug Celebrex caused cardiovascular side effects, the law firm launching the suit said Friday.

Shares of Pfizer (down $0.22 to $28.84, Research), a member of the Dow Jones industrial average, were down 0.65 percent in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Saskatchewan-based Merchant Law Group included Pfizer's Bextra in its suit and also named Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany's largest pharmaceutical firm, for its Mobicox, in the same class of drugs.
Questions raised about arthritis drugs
Some Canadian doctors are wondering whether arthritis drugs in the same class as Vioxx, which caused nearly 28,000 heart attacks or deaths in the U.S. before it was pulled off the market in September, might carry some of the same risks.

The 28,000 figure emerged this week as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a new report about Vioxx.

In pulling it off worldwide markets more than a month ago, manufacturer Merck & Co. said its clinical trial had found the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients who took it for more than 18 months, compared to those who took dummy pills.

From the Port Angeles (Wash.) Penninsula Daily News:
Still demand for flu shot tours to Victoria
Royal Tours owner-president Kevin Harris thought his ``Flu Shot Tour'' to Victoria would run out, like the flu vaccine his passengers are seeking.

Four days tops, the Port Townsend businessman thought the attraction would last.

Two weeks later, the Carlsborg-based transportation and tour company is still carrying passengers on a flu vaccination tour across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
From the Boston Globe:
FDA delays response to drug suit
The federal Food and Drug Administration has postponed its response to Vermont's first-in-the-nation lawsuit seeking to overturn the FDA's ban on the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

The agency now has until Nov. 30 to respond.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Bush victory should soothe fears of cross-border drug crisis: CIPA
The re-election of President George W. Bush should soothe fears that the cross-border prescription drug trade will lead to crippling shortages for Canadians, a spokesman for the Internet pharmacy industry said Wednesday.

Four more years in power will allow Bush to further "tighten the screws" on the industry, forcing Canadian online pharmacies to increasingly turn to Europe to fill orders instead of relying on a network of domestic suppliers, said David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.
From CBC Montreal:
Cabinet minister's record as pharmacy owner under review
The opposition Parti Quebecois is asking the Liberals to remove junior Transport Minister Julie Boulet for her role in managing a pharmacy during her first few months in Jean Charest's cabinet.

Boulet admits that before her nomination to cabinet last year, and for some time after, she gave free rent to three doctors who ran a clinic in the same building as a pharmacy she co-owned in Saint-Tite.
From the Miami Herald:
Bush re-election gives struggling drugmakers status quo benefits
The pharmaceutical industry stands to benefit from President Bush's re-election, but it's from maintenance of the status quo rather than any new policies favoring drug makers.

"In the scheme of things, it doesn't have any meaningful impact on the industry," said independent pharmaceuticals analyst Hemant Shah of HKS & Co. in Warren, N.J.

Industry analysts say that with Bush still in the White House and Republicans tightening their control of Congress, government price controls for prescription medicines won't be on the table. The free-market system, where demand drives price, will continue, said Barbara Ryan, a pharmaceuticals analyst and managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Flu shots fly in from Canada
When San Francisco internist Dr. Philip O'Keefe could find no flu shots for his elderly and immune-compromised patients, he did what the federal government is now trying to do: He turned to Canada.

Soon enough, a Winnipeg pharmacy that sells all kinds of prescription medicines to Americans over the Internet -- in violation of U.S. law -- was willing to ship him 400 doses of French-made flu vaccine for about $10.50 each.

On Thursday night, in the same sort of plastic foam container used to fly fresh fish across the country, 40 vials of vaccine nestled in ice packs were winging their way to San Francisco.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Drug used to treat manic-depressive illness recalled by Health Canada
A drug used to treat manic-depressive illness has been recalled by Health Canada.

Carbolith 150 milligram capsules, distributed in Canada by Valeant Canada Limited, have been recalled after company testing found the medication may not deliver adequate amounts of the drug to ensure effective treatment. As a precaution, Health Canada is advising people taking the drug to continue on their medication but consult their doctor as soon as possible.

Monday, November 01, 2004

From CBC Manitoba:
Doctor fined for signing web prescriptions
Another Manitoba doctor has been censured for co-signing prescriptions for internet pharmacies.

Dr. Stewart Silagy is the sixth Manitoba physician to be disciplined by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Silagy was ordered to pay a $14,000 fine for co-signing Internet prescriptions in 2003.
From the Edmonton Sun:
Concerns rise over Net drug sales
Online drug peddling could touch off the next cross-border trade tiff. U.S. presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry have both promised to pass laws allowing Internet imports of bargain-priced Canadian medicines, fuelling concerns the shipments will drive up domestic prices and create a crippling shortage for Canadians.

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is confident Canada's supply is safe for now, but he's keeping a close watch on how the U.S. process unfolds.
From the Edmonton Sun:
Druggist: put me out of business
A Winnipeg-based Internet pharmacist wants America to put him out of business. Daren Jorgenson believes high drug prices south of the border, which spawned the industry that made him rich, should become a thing of the past.

"Don't let drug companies like Pfizer put me out of business" for selling their products to Americans, Jorgenson says in his online call for action on

"I want you to put me out of business by forcing these drug companies to sell their products to American pharmacies at fair and reasonable prices."

Sunday, October 31, 2004

From the Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle:
Bus trip to Canada for flu shots draws 83
The bus trip culminated with a shot in the arm, but Lois Sanford of Livingston County was looking forward to the trip's other perks.

"I think this is kind of exciting. I didn't want to drive," said Sanford, one of about 83 people who took a bus to Canada for a flu shot early Friday morning. "I can sit back and watch the leaves go by."

Webster resident Charlie Bell, who helped organize the trip, invited enough people to fill the two motorcoaches going to a clinic in Niagara Falls, Canada. But he received so many calls, he'll likely organize more trips in the future.
From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
Flu vaccine in short supply
Public health officials will decide next week whether they have enough flu vaccine to immunize everyone in Saskatchewan who wants the shot, says the province's chief medical health officer.

Although the province has enough vaccine for all high-risk patients, the supply for private clinics has dried up, putting increased pressure on public health clinics to meet demand.
From The Globe and Mail:
Official defends sale of flu vaccine to U.S.
Canada's chief public health officer defended yesterday the right of one of the country's flu-vaccine manufacturers to sell to the United States.

David Butler-Jones said ID Biomedical met all its commitments to the Canadian market before it sought to sell its surplus south of the border. And he said that if it came to a choice between vaccinating a healthy Canadian or an ailing, elderly American, the call would be an easy one:

"A sick American versus a healthy Canadian? . . . I would give it to the American who's at high risk."
From the Port Angeles (Wash.) Penninsula Daily News:
First Peninsula bus tour to Victoria for flu shots has smooth sailing
Frail Port Angeles senior Inez Cowan was all smiles Thursday as a Fort Street pharmacy nurse injected her with Canadian-made influenza vaccine.

Cowan, 88, was one of 20 who ventured across the border to get vaccinated in Canada, part of Carlsborg-based Royal Tours' first ``Flu Shot Tour.''

``I have to have it,'' said Cowan, who wears a heart pacemaker and moves around with the aid of a walker.

The charter bus company, owned by Port Townsend businessman Kevin Harris, transported Sequim and Port Angeles residents and others from as far away as Poulsbo and Shelton to a Victoria pharmacy vaccine clinic Thursday.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

From the National Post:
Ottawa urged to stop cross-border drugs
The federal government should stamp out the lucrative cross-border trade in prescription drugs, before U.S. laws change and trigger dangerous shortages and price hikes in Canada, a top economic think-tank is urging.

The fall-out for this country could be dire if John Kerry is elected president next Tuesday and implements his promise to legalize the import of medicine from Canada, suggests the C.D. Howe Institute paper released yesterday.
From the New Orleans Times Picayune:
Judge bans suburban Orleans business from selling Canadian drugs
The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy has obtained a permanent court order banning the Canadian owners of a suburban New Orleans store from selling inexpensive prescription drugs.

The board went after, claiming that a store the company once operated in Kenner acted as a pharmacy without the proper state permit.

But the company said the store acted as a broker between individuals and pharmacies and was itself not a pharmacy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

From the Macon (GA) Telegraph:
Democratic governors team up in prescription drug plan
Underscoring the political overtones of his new prescription drug import plan, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Thursday that he had enlisted the participation of another state in the program - the presidential battleground of Missouri.

The announcement, which prompted criticism from Republicans, came just five days before the Nov. 2 election in which polls in Missouri show the race between Sen. John Kerry and President Bush tightening.

Early this month, Blagojevich announced that Wisconsin, another key presidential battleground state led by a Democratic governor, would also participate in the program. Democrats have sought to leverage support for Kerry from senior citizens and other consumers by highlighting the reluctance of the Bush administration to allow the importation of less expensive drugs.
From Reuters:
Canada to act if US drug demand triggers shortage
There are no signs of shortages of medicines in Canada but if U.S. reimportation triggers a run on drugs then Ottawa is prepared to act to stem the cross-border flow, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said on Thursday.

Both U.S. President George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry have come out in favor of looking at the reimportation of drugs from the lower-priced Canadian market and two bills to allow this have been presented to Congress.
From Health Canada:
New Warnings about Parkinson's Drug PERMAX and Reports of Heart Valve Problems- Shire BioChem Inc.
PUBLIC ADVISORY Health Canada Endorsed Important Safety Information on PERMAX® (pergolide mesylate)
From Health Canada:
New Safety Information Regarding PERMAX and Occurrence of Cardiac Valvulopathy / Fibrosis.
Dear HealthCare Professional:

Shire BioChem Inc., following discussions with Health Canada, is alerting you to important new WARNINGS concerning the risk of cardiac valvulopathy associated with use of PERMAX (pergolide mesylate). The Product Monograph for PERMAX is being revised to reflect the following additions...
From the Canadian Press:
Internet pharmacy group seeks funding from generic drug company
A group representing Internet pharmacies has asked Canada's biggest generic drug maker, as well as others with an interest in seeing the industry thrive, for financial help.

An e-mail obtained by The Canadian Press suggests Toronto-based Apotex was committed to investing in the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. But the money would be tied to "current sales and growth of their products in our pharmacies."
From the Miami Herald:
Missouri Joins Drug-Import Program
Missouri joined Illinois and Wisconsin in a new drug-import program to make cheaper prescription drugs available from Canada and Europe despite a federal ban on the imports.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden appeared with Gov. Rod Blagojevich at a news conference Thursday in Chicago to announce Missouri's participation in the I-SaveRx drug program. Illinois and Wisconsin launched it this month to offer savings on about 100 medications of up to 50 percent off U.S. retail prices.