Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Regular updates will resume on Monday, February 2nd.

Why we pay so much for drugs
The FDA contends it is looking out for consumer safety, but in fact a growing volume of prescription drugs sold in the U.S. is made overseas and brought in by domestic manufacturers. What's really being protected, critics say, is the pharmaceutical industry. It has a powerful partner in the FDA, which over the past year has conducted widely publicized seizures of prescription drugs shipped into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and elsewhere that it maintains could be harmful to consumers.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

From the Contra Costa (CA) Times:
FDA seeks to end drug imports
A second "blitz" inspection of almost 2,000 packages of medicines imported from Canada found that nearly all contained foreign versions of American pharmaceuticals that officials said might not be safe.
From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
REIMPORTATION PLAN: Drug makers threaten sellers
Major drug companies are fighting any movement to let Americans buy prescription drugs from Canada with new ferocity, giving a preview of what may await Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's drug reimportation website.

Last month, officials from Pfizer Inc. warned Canadian drug wholesalers that they must refuse to ship to any Canadian pharmacy that sells medicines to Americans. If they don't, Pfizer warned, the wholesalers themselves would be cut off.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

From Newsday (NY):
Pfizer Wants Canada to Stop Selling Drugs
Pfizer Inc. is applying tougher restrictions on Canadian pharmacies to discourage them from selling low-cost prescription drugs to American customers.

In a Monday letter, Pfizer told Canadian pharmacies they will need authorization to deal with wholesalers, and that they had to promise not to ship products south of the border.

From the Sacramento Bee:
S.F. joins fight to get drugs from Canada
City officials here have jumped into the fray of what has been called a "revolution" against major U.S. pharmaceutical firms.

San Francisco's 11 supervisors have unanimously passed a resolution authorizing development of Internet links on community-based computers to enable citizens to purchase Canadian prescription drugs.

From the Montreal Gazette:
New generic drugs may be kept from Quebecers
The government's decision to postpone its February update to the list of drugs the provincial drug insurance plan pays for means Quebecers will be deprived of new generic drugs.

Health Minister Philippe Couillard announced the freeze on listing new products and said the 4- to 8-per-cent price increases sought by brand-name drug producers would be negotiated.

From the Miami Herald:
Pawlenty to meet with FDA officials Thursday
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty planned to meet with officials of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday to discuss his plan to import prescription drugs from Canada.

The FDA has expressed concerns about the governor's plan, citing safety concerns.
From the New York Times:
Pfizer Moves to Try to Stop Drugs From Canada
Pfizer is stepping up its efforts to stop exports of low-price prescription drugs from Canada to the United States by imposing new restrictions on sales to Canadian drug wholesalers.

In a letter to Canadian retail pharmacies, Pfizer said that it would immediately require wholesale distributors to report past and present orders of Pfizer products from individual drugstores.

"Under Pfizer's new sales policy," the letter says, "distributors will only be authorized to deal with approved purchasers of Pfizer products."

From the Boston Globe:
Secretary of State proposes buying Canadian drugs, plans Web site
The secretary of state on Tuesday called on Rhode Island to join several cities and states that have plans to purchase prescription drugs from Canada, despite a federal prohibition on importing them.

Matt Brown said a prescription program for state employees and retirees could save millions of dollars for Rhode Island, which faces a projected $37 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30, and a projected two-year budget deficit of $226 million through June 2005.

From the Capital Times (Wisc.):
Images: Feds go out of their way to hurt Rx drug users (opinion)
A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a free market. A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it's a free market.

A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it's a free market. We can buy HP printers made in Mexico. We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh.

We can purchase almost anything we want from many different countries, but heaven help the elderly who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a Canadian or Mexican pharmacy. That's called un-American!

From the National Post:
Eli Lilly raises stakes for Viagra
Until a month ago, Dr. Martin Buckspan had only one effective oral treatment he could prescribe to the hundreds of erectile dysfunction patients at his urology practice at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto: Pfizer Inc.'s Viagra.

That was until Eli Lilly & Co. and Icos Corp. launched their Cialis in Canada in early December. Drawn by its promise of up to 36 hours of duration, as compared with the four- to six-hour window for Viagra, the majority of Dr. Buckspan's new patients are choosing to try the Lilly-Icos product.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

From the Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle:
Discount Drugs gets grudging OK
The Planning Board voted unanimously last night to approve the permit application for a Discount Drugs of Canada affiliate -- but with unknown conditions that may prove challenging.

The vote allows Kurt Bricault to operate "a clerical Internet pharmaceutical business" at 85 Main St. with attached conditions based on a legal opinion from the city solicitor's office.

Monday, January 12, 2004

From the Kansas City Channel:
Holden: Buying Canadian Drugs For Mo. Program Possible
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden said that he will not rule out authorizing the purchase of Canadian drugs in the state's prescription drug plan.

From SF Gate:
Board backs drugs from Canada
The Board of Supervisors went on record this week in support of finding a way to import cheaper Canadian prescription drugs to lower costs for San Francisco residents and city employees.

Tuesday's vote, said Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, who sponsored the bill, "is a major step toward the goal of cheaper prescription drugs. In the absence of responsible actions by the federal government, cities and states need to be creative.''
Internet drugs facing roadblock
The booming business in prescription drugs sold to Americans over the Internet from Canadian pharmacies is about to hit a major, potentially fatal, roadblock.

Canadian doctors who co-sign the prescriptions for U.S. patients are about to be given some stark news by the national body that provides them liability insurance: If a patient gets sick or dies from the drug and you get sued, you're on your own.

From the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times:
Your health, your responsibility: U.S. looks north for cheaper drugs
The Lauers wonder how much longer they will be able to make the trips to Canada and have considered ordering the drugs by mail. They say they would use an Internet site proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to help find reputable Canadian pharmacies.

Pawlenty wants to set up a state-sponsored Web site to help Minnesota residents buy their prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies at lower prices than in the United States.

When he decided to support reimportation, Pawlenty bucked the national Republican Party and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which claims such a program is illegal and potentially unsafe.

From NBC-TV Columbus (Ohio):
Canadian Pharmacies Offer Low Prices
Canadian pharmacies are opening their doors to American consumers, offering prescription drugs at Canadian prices.

The American Drug Club has opened an office in Columbus selling prescription drugs. The prescriptions are sold at an average 50 percent savings, according to Warren Hogue, American Drug Club spokesman.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

From the Raleigh (NC) News:
Court rules against Canadian drug sales
A judge ruled Friday that a Concord business that helps North Carolina residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada violates state and federal law and must be shut down.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. bolsters the efforts of the N.C. Board of Pharmacy to close storefront businesses and Web sites that help people order drugs from Canadian pharmacies. On Friday, Manning granted a preliminary injunction stopping the operations of Canada Outlet until the case can be heard fully.

FDA Chief Vows Action on Drug Import Ban
The Food and Drug Administration isn't ruling out legal action if cities or states defy its ban on importing cheaper drugs from Canada, Commissioner Mark McClellan said Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, McClellan said the FDA has dissuaded many states from starting such programs by arguing that there are better ways - such as buying generic - to bring down the costs of prescription drugs.

From the Globe and Mail:
Ontario cost-cutting plans under fire
Ontario's seniors reacted with fear and anger yesterday after learning the province's Liberal government may force those with higher incomes to pay the full costs of their medication.

"People are absolutely terrified," said Judy Cutler, the communications director for CARP -- Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

From the National Post:
N.C. judge rules against company helping with drug sales from Canada
A North Carolina business that helps local residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada is illegal and should be shut down, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

Judge Howard Manning's decision Friday to grant a preliminary injunction against Concord-based Canada Outlet likely will bolster efforts of the state Board of Pharmacy to close similar businesses.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Nasal-spray flu vaccine proves as effective as needle, study shows
As influenza continues to cut a swath across Canada, particularly among children, there is some good news on the horizon. New research shows that administering the flu vaccine to children with a nasal spray can be just as effective as with a needle.

The study, published today in the latest edition of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, is the first to examine the effectiveness of a spray vaccine during a flu outbreak, and will likely bolster use of the product.

The vaccine, known as FluMist, is currently available in the United States, but not in Canada.

From the Telegraph (UK):
Glaxo takes on smugglers by changing drug's colour
GlaxoSmithKline, the world's biggest manufacturer of Aids drugs, is changing the colour of the tablets it sells to the developing world in an attempt to prevent widespread drug smuggling.

The colour change marks a fresh approach to a growing problem. Because drug companies sell their products at cost in countries where HIV is widespread, such as Uganda, they are often reimported illegally to the developed world, where they normally retail for a much higher price.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

From the Toronto Star:
MDs' insurer may not cover Web drug sales
The body that provides malpractice insurance to doctors in Canada is on the verge of announcing it will not cover lawsuits generated by Internet drug sales, even if those suits are launched in Canadian courts.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association has already informed its members it will not defend or pay out claims made if lawsuits relating to Internet drug sales are filed in American courts. That provision went into effect as of Jan. 1 and is part of a broader policy involving lawsuits filed against Canadian doctors outside this country.

From the Southgate (Mich.) News Herald:
Rx Canada Direct opens Downriver
The national concern over the price of prescription drugs helped spawn a new business here.

Rx Canada Direct, 13526 North Line Road, celebrated its grand opening Monday, offering customers potential savings on their prescriptions.

It is operating despite raised eyebrows from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

With one store already open, however, owner Hysam Hammad said his customers, many of whom lack adequate insurance and access to the Internet, don’t seem to mind.

“We’re giving our customers access to better prices on their medication,” he said. “We’re not giving medical advice.”

From Capital News (NY):
Discount drug debate continues
Kurt Bricault opened his Discount Drugs of Canada for business on Monday, despite not having received a special permit from the North Adams Planning Board. He has since closed the doors, after Mayor John Barrett said Bricault's landlord could face a $100 per day fine.

From the Baton Rouge (LA) Business Report:
The Canadian connection
Multi-state bid fails to lower prescription costs; Louisiana contemplates Canadian drugs

From the Canadian Press:
Hormone prescriptions in U.S. drop after study links them to heart disease
Prescriptions for hormone supplements have plunged by one-third in the United States since a study was abruptly halted because of evidence that the pills raise the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and other illnesses in postmenopausal women, an analysis found.

In the year after the July 2002 announcement about the risks from estrogen-progestin pills, U.S. prescriptions for most types of hormone therapy dropped 38 per cent, reversing a seven-year trend, according to the report in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Monday, January 05, 2004

From the Fredricksburg (Virg) Free Lance Star:
Delegate proposes buying drugs from Canada
A state legislator said Monday he will introduce a bill allowing Virginia to buy inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada, despite a federal ban on imported pharmaceuticals.

Del. Richard H. Black's proposal applies only to state-sponsored medical programs, including those for state employees and retirees. The cities of Montgomery, Ala., and Springfield, Mass., already make Canadian drugs available to their employees, and officials in several other states are considering similar initiatives.

From Fast Company:
Capitalism, Meet Globalism (editorial)
What can any business do? It's no use trying to fight globalization and e-commerce. To compete, just to survive, companies have no choice but to embrace these forces and to accommodate all their nasty side effects.

But wrestling global capitalism into submission--well, that's a bit like asking scientists to hurry up with that dang cure for cancer. Think about the problem this way, though. Don Tapscott, author of The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business (Free Press, 2003), says that the result of all this new pressure is a forced transparency. Like it or not, your company is buck stinking nekkid, and you better do what you can to look your best.

A good way to start, Tapscott says, is by being honest. In the current business environment, any misdeeds will be found out. Second, demonstrate your goodwill. Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, need to back up their "we care" message by not gouging customers.

From the Montgomery (AL) Advertiser:
City drug initiative may be illegal (editorial)
For much of the time that a national debate has been ongoing over the possibility that cities and states could buy less expensive prescription drugs from Canada for their employees and retirees, Montgomery has been one of two cities nationally doing it.

Under the program, the city orders prescription drugs at much reduced rates -- at least 20 percent, and sometimes as much as 60 percent -- from a Canadian drug company for city employees and retirees who choose to participate. Springfield, Mass., has a similar program, and other cities and at least two states are pushing for the right to implement plans.

It's hard to know whether the public should be applauding Montgomery officials for their initiative or chiding them for breaking the law.
From the Aberdeen (SD) News:
Outgoing Mayor Still Eyes Affordable Drugs
He's getting a change of scenery and a new office, but Michael Albano plans to continue the crusade for cheaper prescription drugs he began as mayor of Springfield.

Albano hopes to capitalize on the recognition he gained over the past six months, when Springfield grabbed national headlines by becoming the first city in the country to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada for its employees.

He's already set up a new office just a few blocks from City Hall. His new business cards identify him as president of Michael Albano and Associates. And when his term officially expires at 10 a.m. Monday - when Charles Ryan is sworn in for the city's top job - Albano will launch a new career as a public affairs consultant.

From the Lowell (Mass) Sun:
Conrgressmen back drug imports from Canada
Two area congressmen will champion legislation next year to open the Canadian pharmaceutical market to U.S. consumers.

Representatives Marty Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, and John Tierney, a Salem Democrat, will co-sponsor a bill in the House of Representatives legalizing the reimportation of pharmaceuticals bought from regulated Canadian wholesalers.

From the Washington Times:
State-federal dispute looms on drug imports
More states and cities are pressuring the federal government to allow them to import prescription drugs from Canada, where the drugs are sold cheaper, and a state-federal feud is brewing.

Current law prohibits the practice unless the Food and Drug Administration can guarantee that the drugs coming into the country are safe, which neither the Clinton nor Bush administration has been able to do.

"Twice the conclusion was reached that we could not guarantee the safety ... so therefore [it] could not occur," said Bill Pierce, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the FDA. "Nothing has changed since that time," he said, implying that the states and cities will not get their way.
From Newsday (NY):
State lawmakers explore Canadian drug importation
Connecticut lawmakers, faced with a growing state budget deficit, are exploring the idea of buying cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

Leaders of the legislature's Public Health, Aging and Human Services committees will meet with former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano on Wednesday to hear about his city's successful Canadian drug program.

Municipal officials from around the state are also being invited to the forum to hear about the illegal drug reimportation program that launched Albano and his city into the national spotlight.

From the Globe and Mail:
Pharmacy chain links past to future
Back when the boomers were kids and they had scrapes or sore throats, it's likely their parents reached for something in the medicine cabinet that bore the Rexall name and signature orange and royal blue colours.

But as the big-box retail trend squeezed out the friendly neighbourhood pharmacy, Rexall stores, along with the brand, became few and far between.

By the time Daryl Katz, founder of Katz Group (a consolidator of mom-and-pop pharmacies across Canada), bought what was left of Rexall's Canadian presence in 1996, there were only 36 stores operating across the country.

Edmonton-based Katz is now the largest pharmaceutical retailer across the country, operating 1,500 stores in Canada as well as an additional 200 stores south of the border, compared with the 800 outlets under the Shoppers Drug Mart banner, and filling more than 75 million prescriptions a year.

From the Berkshire (Mass) Eagle:
Discount Drugs plans to open
Despite the lack of a permit, entrepreneur Kurt Bricault said he plans to open the doors of his Discount Drugs of Canada affiliate at 85 Main St. on Monday morning.

He said he will open without a city-approved special permit allowing an "Internet pharmaceutical business" because he feels there is no need for one.

W.Va. court decision approves importing of drugs from Canada
One Internet company that permitted access to Canadian drugs was recently shut down by a court, while another was allowed to keep operating by a different court.

Just how those judicial decisions will affect the proposal of Houghton Street resident Kurt Bricault to open the same type of business in North Adams remains to be seen.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:
Dave Zweifel: Drug firms pull out stops on imports (editorial)
The Bush administration, doing the bidding of the big drug corporations, wants to make it next to impossible for U.S. citizens to buy their drugs in Canada.

The Food and Drug Administration insists that Americans can't be sure the drugs from Canada are safe, therefore it won't give its OK to state governments, co-ops and others who would like to save about a third of the cost of prescription drugs by going through Canadian pharmaceutical channels.

Canada, who some say has more safeguards over its prescription drug system than the United States has over its, also has cost controls on those drugs, which help account for the lower prices. Plus the efficiencies of its single-payer health care system, which the powers-that-be in the U.S. refuse to acknowledge, contribute to lower consumer costs.

From the Tuscaloosa (AL) News:
Montgomery ordering drugs from Canada for workers, retirees
For the past year, the city of Montgomery has been quietly offering its employees and retirees a voluntary mail-order program to obtain Canadian drugs at a reduced price.

Only problem is a high-ranking Food and Drug Administration official says the Canadian drugs are illegal and he did not know about Montgomery's program until recently. He said the program appears to be a violation of federal law.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

From the New Britain (CT) Herald:
U.S.-Canada drug war rages on
Though new Medicare drug benefits may provide marginal cost relief to some seniors, a Canadian pharmacy group said the program is "complicated and fraught with gaps, and that seniors can still save the most by buying their prescriptions from Canada."

"When you actually do the math and add up the monthly co-pays and annual deductibles, you discover that the coverage is not all that substantial and the gap in the middle completely abandons a lot of patients," said David McKay, executive director, Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA), a trade group representing pharmacies serving American and Canadian patients. "You almost need a degree in calculus to understand the fine details of this plan. People are going to realize that it’s simpler and more affordable to buy their drugs from Canada."

From the Baltimore Sun:
Busy medicine trade alleged to hurt Canada
Critics in Manitoba say huge U.S. demand is drying up supplies; Drug firm retaliation blamed; Boom has raised pay of druggists beyond reach of rural stores, they say

From the Boston Globe:
Leaving office, but not the fight
Mayor Michael Albano cleaned out his desk at Springfield City Hall yesterday in preparation for giving up his office on Monday, but even as he loaded boxes with memorabilia and accepted calls from well-wishers, he made it clear he will remain a thorn in the side of big US drug companies.

Albano burst onto the national media stage in July with his one-of-a-kind program to import prescription drugs from Canada for city employees and retirees, launching the money-saving plan even though the Food and Drug Administration said it was illegal.