Monday, February 23, 2004

Obscure Ottawa board helps keep Canadian drug prices low, U.S. demand high
It's no secret a primary battleground in the intensifying cross-border fight over affordable medicine is the great chasm between prescription drug prices in Canada and the United States.

What may surprise many people, however, is that one of the most powerful warriors keeping Canadian drug prices in check is a small, quasi-judicial tribunal that toils in near obscurity in an Ottawa office building.

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board was created in 1987 under amendments to the Patent Act passed by the former Conservative government.

Governors in showdown with U.S. health officials over cross-border pill trade
Governors who support importing cheaper Canadian prescription drugs were headed for a showdown Tuesday with U.S. health officials trying to stop the growing trade.

A summit organized by Illinois and Minnesota is giving Health Secretary Tommy Thompson and U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials a chance to explain their opposition to the illegal cross-border prescription drug trade. Thompson and the others will serve on a panel at the forum designed to exchange ideas for lowering the cost of prescription medicines in the United States.

From WFIE-TV (Ind.):
FDA Asks States to Stop Pointing to Canadian Drug Sites
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants Minnesota and Wisconsin to change current or planned Web sites that direct residents to specific Canadian pharmacies that sell cheaper prescription drugs, the Washington Post reports.

Minnesota put up the information last month, and Wisconsin plans to install a similar Web page sometime this week, the newspaper says. Officials from both states say by pointing residents to reliable sites, they are only trying to protect those who are already buying their drugs from Canada.

From the Tennesseean:
Drug debate gets closer to TennCare
Bredesen has proposed that TennCare enrollees be required to use the cheapest drug that is effective and buy antihistamines and gastric-acid medications over the counter. Also, a group of lawmakers has invited a Canadian company to come tomorrow to discuss buying cheaper prescriptions from that country.

From the Bismark (ND) Tribune:
Drug plan gets close look
The governor's office has not given up on helping citizens buy less expensive prescription drugs from Canada, but would prefer to work with local pharmacists on other proposals, an adviser to Gov. John Hoeven says.

Two state-supported plans discussed earlier this month would not need legislative approval because participation would be voluntary, said Duane Houdek, Hoeven's staff attorney.

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