Thursday, April 29, 2004

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
House approves bill allowing licensing for Canadian pharmacies
The Senate on Thursday moved to eliminate an obstacle to purchasing medications from Canada, approving a bill allowing Canadian pharmacies to be licensed in Rhode Island.

State law requires pharmacies outside the state to be licensed to sell in Rhode Island. While the bill removes one to allowing Rhode Islanders to purchase drugs from Canada, it's unclear whether federal law would permit the sales.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Canadian pharmacy proposal gains momentum
As the House yesterday unanimously passed a bill that would remove the barriers in state law against sales by Canadian pharmacies to Rhode Island customers, Governor Carcieri, for the first time, indicated his support for the measure.

"The governor believes we need to begin to take direct action to reduce drug costs for Rhode Islanders," said Carcieri's spokesman, Jeff Neal. "He also believes and hopes that this will send a message to the federal government that the time to act [to reduce medication costs] is now."

From the News Review (OR):
Roseburg branch of Canada Drug Supply remains open -- for now
While two Lane County branches of Canada Drug Supply are closing under pressure from federal and state regulators, a Roseburg branch remains open, at least for the time being.

Chris and Racyne Willis, owners of Canada Drug at 178 N.W. Garden Valley Blvd., said although the store has a good client base, increased scrutiny from the government could put them out of business.

"We're under a lot of pressure," Chris Willis said. "But we're trying to keep things going."

From the Corvallis (OR) Gazette Times:
Drugstore crackdown miffs DeFazio
Congressman Peter DeFazio is protesting a state crackdown on businesses that help Oregonians get less expensive medications from Canada, and he challenged the governor to help.

"The Oregon Board of Pharmacy is cracking down on these drug outlets in the name of safety and protecting the health of Oregonians, but in reality the only thing they are protecting is the profits of the wealthy and politically connected pharmaceutical industry," the 4th District Democrat wrote in a letter to Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
From Bloomberg:
Canadian Drug Officials Voice Concern Over Imports
U.S. imports of prescription drugs are causing shortages in Canada and have raised concerns about patient safety, Canadian pharmacy authorities told a U.S. panel studying the cross-border sales.

The 13-member panel, appointed by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, is examining whether medicines can be imported safely. The meeting in Rockville, Maryland, was the fourth in a series of public hearings.

From Reuters (UK):
Drug Imports Would Hurt Research -Economists
Legalizing importation of medicines may provide a quick fix for some Americans struggling to pay high U.S. prices but would force drug makers to cut research budgets, economists told a U.S. task force on Tuesday.

Their arguments echoed drug industry complaints that giving Americans legal access to cheaper medicines would reduce company revenues and leave less money to develop new treatments.

Monday, April 26, 2004

From Reuters (UK):
Drug Firms Withheld Negative Data -Study
Drug companies withheld information showing antidepressants were ineffective and could be harmful to children and should have issued warnings on their products, researchers said on Friday.

Health authorities in Britain and the United States have voiced concern or advised doctors not to prescribe the drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to children under 18 because of a potential suicide risk.

Scientists who conducted a review of six published and six unpublished trials about their use in children say companies had been aware of problems but did not reveal them.

From Wired News:
Damaging Drug Study? Bury It
The risks for children taking some antidepressants could outweigh the benefits, according to an analysis of data that pharmaceutical companies did not make widely available to the public or to researchers.

Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed 22 randomized controlled trials that compared the effects of antidepressants and placebos in children from 5 to 18 years old. Data on four out of the five antidepressants examined showed the drugs had the potential to do more harm than good in depressed kids, according to research published in the April issue of the British medical journal The Lancet.

From the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette:
Anti-depressant safety challenged
Four popular anti-depressants being used to treat thousands of depressed American children are unsafe, ineffective or both, according to the first careful scientific review to include all available studies, including negative data that has long been withheld from public scrutiny by the pharmaceutical industry.

It is especially dangerous to prescribe Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and Celexa for children who are suicidal, said British researchers who conducted the analysis published Thursday in the journal The Lancet, because the data show a clear increase in the risk of suicidal behavior among children taking the drugs - and no benefit.
From News-Medical.Net:
Canadian doctors oblivious to costs of prescribed drugs
For the most part, family physicians in British Columbia aren't even close when they guess the costs of the treatments and tests they prescribe for their patients, according to a new study published in the journal Canadian Family Physician.

Seventy-three per cent of the doctors surveyed could not estimate the costs of their orders to patients within 25 per cent of the actual costs. And not only do they not know the costs, in many cases they are "wild" in their guessing, says Dr. Michael Allan, a professor in the U of A Department of Family Medicine and a co-author of the study. The research involved analyzing the survey responses of 259 doctors in British Columbia.

From the Globe and Mail:
The truth about hormone treatment -- and why you didn't hear it sooner
When Sandy Bohl began to experience the hot flashes of menopause 10 years ago, she was advised to undergo hormone-replacement therapy.

"My doctor said to me, 'You absolutely have to go on it or your skin is going to dry up, your vagina will dry up . . . you'll get osteoporosis and heart disease,' " recalled Ms. Bohl, a Toronto actress and model.
From the Phoenix Business Journal:
McCain backs new push for Canadian drug imports
Arizona Sen. John McCain has signed onto a renewed effort in the U.S. Senate to allow for the importation of less expensive Canadian prescription drugs.

Lifting Food and Drug Administration restrictions on Canadian drugs is garnering increasing support on Capitol Hill and from several governors worried about high drug costs. McCain is a top Republican driver of the issue in Washington.

From the New York Times:
Viagra and the Battle of the Awkward Ads
Advertising has had its share of nasty three-way battles over the years: McDonald's vs. Burger King vs. Wendy's. Bud Light vs. Miller Lite vs. Coors Light. Toyota vs. Nissan vs. Honda. Kellogg's vs. Post vs. General Mills.

Now comes Viagra vs. Levitra vs. Cialis. It is a Madison Avenue dream. And nightmare.

It is a dream because the three rivals are flush with cash and eager to compete aggressively in a market that is already big and is forecast to grow fast. Ad agencies have been panting like lovesick suitors over the idea of clients willing to spend more than $300 million this year when many other clients are pinching pennies.

The problem is that the products in question treat erectile dysfunction, a condition, like adult incontinence or hemorrhoids, that is hard to discuss without being too vague or too vulgar. So the advertisers have to figure out how to build customer demand and loyalty without offending people and without providing additional fodder for endless gags by late-night talk-show hosts.
From NBC San Diego:
Does Your Medicine Cabinet Need Spring Cleaning?
When was the last time you took a good look inside your medicine cabinet?

Charles Hall, of Oak Park, Mich., was worried his cabinet wouldn't stand up to a pharmacist's scrutiny, but Diana Sigler, a pharmacist at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., gave him high marks.

Unlike many people, Hall throws away expired medications and lotions -- except for one bottle of expired castor oil that was found in his cabinet.
From the Manitowoc (Wisc.) Herald Times:
Cheaper Canadian drugs in demand
The demand for cheaper prescription drugs is everywhere and people are turning north for an answer.

An estimated 1.5 million U.S. residents rely on Canadian mail-order pharmacies for discounts on prescription drugs.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate got in on the issue by unveiling a bipartisan bill that would make it an illegal restraint of trade for pharmaceutical companies to limit supplies as a way of undercutting sales from Canada to the U.S.

From the Milwaukee Freeman Newspapers:
Drug wars
It's a tough choice: Prescription medication or food.
And as the cost of medication continues to soar and health insurance coverage is nipped back, it's one more people people may be forced to make.

But should people become forced to decide? Dewayne Stiefvater, a West Bend resident who is involved in the local chapter of American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), says there has to be another alternative.
From the Globe and Mail:
Crackdown taking toll on Internet pharmacies
A major Internet pharmacy in Winnipeg issued layoff notices to more than 10 per cent of its staff this week, the first of many belt-tightening measures expected as the bitter war between Canada's cross-border drug sellers and multinational pharmaceutical giants begins to hurt the fledgling on-line business. told about 20 of its 180 Winnipeg employees that their jobs have disappeared since the company was forced to shift some operations to Britain.

From CBC New Brunswick:
Internet prescribing siphons supply: Druggists
Some New Brunswick pharmacists say they're struggling to keep drugs in stock because the internet prescription drug trade is draining the Canadian supply.

Pharmacist Stephen Thompson keeps a close watch on his supply of pharmaceuticals. He says it's hard to keep up with the demand.
From the Aberdeen (SD) News:
Is reimportation coming? It's looking good
There may be light at the end of the tunnel for those bogged down in a financial mire by the high cost of prescription drugs.

Legislation is gathering steam in Congress to allow the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and other countries. The legislation will also get the government involved in enforcing safety measures that opponents currently use to justify their stance against such re-importation.

From Investors Business Daily:
Drug-import issue a hot button for statehouses and D.C.
Spurred by the soaring costs of prescription drugs, more than 2 million Americans are currently buying their medicine from Canada, making drug importation a hot topic on Capitol Hill as well as in many states.

A growing number of states -- struggling with shrinking budgets and rising health-care costs for their workers and residents -- are attempting to sidestep Food and Drug Administration regulations banning foreign drug imports and are encouraging residents to import drugs.

From the Boston Globe:
Stoughton weighs Canada drug option
Exploring ways to reduce costs, town officials are considering adopting a voluntary prescription drug program that calls for Stoughton to buy less expensive medicine from Canada.

Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz said that if the town can save an estimated $75,000 to $100,000, the program would be worthwhile.

"It's a potential cost savings that you have to look at," he said.

From the Portales (NM) News Tribune:
Local pharmacists concerned about international prescription drugs
Pharmacists in Portales are concerned about support for legalizing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and Europe.

Dick Haverland, pharmacist at C.J.’s Pill Box Pharmacy, said his main concern was guaranteeing the purity of medications and ensuring they wouldn’t be forgeries.

From the Albany (OR) Democrat Herald:
Drug store crackdown miffs DeFazio
Congressman Peter DeFazio is protesting a state crackdown on businesses that help Oregonians get less expensive medications from Canada, and he challenged the governor to help.

"The Oregon Board of Pharmacy is cracking down on these drug outlets in the name of safety and protecting the health of Oregonians, but in reality the only thing they are protecting is the profits of the wealthy and politically connected pharmaceutical industry," the 4th District Democrat wrote in a letter to Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
From CBC Manitoba:
Pink slips hit web pharmacies
Internet pharmacies are one of the fastest-growing industries in Manitoba – but job losses on Monday have caused some to question how much longer they can survive.

The success of internet pharmacies is based on offering brand-name drugs to Americans at lower Canadian prices.

Large pharmaceutical companies have been fighting back by restricting drug sales to online pharmacies. Now many pharmacies don't have enough supplies to sell to their U.S. customers – and they're starting to feel the pinch.

From CBS Chicago:
Giuliani Fights Import Of Cheaper Drugs
It’s already been the subject of millions of dollars of campaign commercials this year in Illinois, and it's a top priority for Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Now, the practice of importing less-expensive prescription drugs is coming under fire from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who says it's fraught with peril.

The former mayor is joining the imported drug debate as a hired gun, though Giuliani declined to say just how much the pharmaceutical industry is paying him.

Seeking Rx Relief to the North
When the purse strings get tight around your house, what's the first thing to go? Unfortunately, for many seniors, it's their monthly prescriptions. A recent Harvard study finds that as co-pays soar, and prescription prices skyrocket, many sticker-shocked patients are skipping their meds. The woman you are about to meet is among them.

After dealing with diabetes, arthritis, an enlarged heart, a stroke and osteoporosis, 80-year-old Gertie Breen got used to popping 17 pills a day. She says, "Every day when I take and look at those pills in the morning, when I had to take them, it was just about all I could do not to throw 'em, just throw 'em! It was maddening." What she and her husband, Norman, couldn't get used to was watching their monthly pharmacy bill climb. Norman Breen adds, "We'd go to the pharmacy and we had so much money for prescriptions and here it was 25-30 dollars more than what we figured."

From the Coos Bay (OR) World:
State regulators shut down the Canadian connection
Paul Pfeiffer of Eugene saves $2,000 a year buying his three name-brand medications from a pharmacy in Canada.

Drug bills for Herbert Barnes of Springfield used to run as much as $4,500 a year. Now that he's ordering the same drugs from Canada, those costs are down to $600 a year.

Pfeiffer, 86, and Barnes, 90, rely on Canada Drug Supply, a local company with outlets in Eugene and Springfield, for the steep drug discounts. The business helps customers with prescriptions from local doctors obtain their medications by mail from Canada.

At the end of the month, however, Canada Drug Supply will lose Barnes and Pfeiffer as customers, along with the other 2,000-plus clients the business serves. That's because the firm will close its operations rather than face state fines.

Friday, April 23, 2004

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Pfizer restates opposition to Canadian drugs
Pfizer Inc. refused to budge Thursday from its opposition to Americans seeking cheaper prescription medicines from Canada - despite what Minnesota's governor calls a widening election-year "prairie fire" push to legalize the practice.

As about a dozen seniors protested the company's stance outside its annual meeting, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive Henry McKinnell said the "importation of medicines across America's borders poses a clear threat to patient safety."

From the Washington Post:
A Small Win for Proponents of Drug Importation
Religious groups, a Republican governor and elderly activists sporting name tags such as "Old Woman" descended on the annual meeting of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. on Thursday, opening a new front in the battle over U.S. drug prices and the push to make it legal for Americans to purchase cheaper medicines in Canada and elsewhere.

As expected, the eclectic coalition was unsuccessful in its attempt to limit Pfizer's price increases to the rate of inflation. But its leaders declared a symbolic victory in the broader struggle to legalize importation of prescription drugs, a fight that now stretches from courts to state capitols to Congress.
From Bloomberg:
New Hampshire Governor Hasn't Shown Drug Imports Safe, FDA Says
New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson, who is encouraging sales of pharmaceuticals from Canada to cut patients' costs, has yet to demonstrate that the imports are safe, a U.S. government health official said.

Benson, a Republican, ordered tests of six imported prescriptions before setting up a Web site this month that guides state residents to Internet pharmacies that sell pills from Canada, where prices are controlled. The tests showed the drugs contained the appropriate active ingredients, Benson said.

From the Boston Globe:
US Senate drug bill would set worldwide marketplace
A drug importation bill filed yesterday in the US Senate would set up a vast international marketplace for prescription medicine as part of an effort to loosen the drug industry's grip on supplies available to American consumers.

Under an importation oversight system that would be established by the Senate bill, American consumers could legally get drugs from not just from Canada but some 22 other countries, including members of the European Union, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

From the Puget Sound (Wash.) Business Journal:
Seattle Council committee approves study of Canadian drug plan
A Seattle City Council committee has approved a resolution that -- if adopted by the full council -- would allow a study of the idea of letting city employees buy prescription drugs in Canada.

The controversial idea has been percolating for several weeks as the city grapples with major funding cuts. Drugs bought in Canada often cost 30 percent to 50 percent less than in the United States.

From the Quincy (Ill.) Herald Whig:
Pharmacists say plan to import drugs from Europe problematic
Quincy area pharmacists say Gov. Rod Blagojevich's call for importing medicine from Europe is political posturing meant to distract people from some of the state's failed efforts to help the poor or elderly buy medicine.

Blagojevich announced at a press conference Tuesday that if a study he commissioned shows it is safe and cheaper to buy drugs from Europe, then the state might be morally obligated to import prescription drugs, even though that violates federal law.

Blagojevich has called on federal officials to lift restrictions that keep people from ordering drugs from Canada.

From Medical News Today (UK):
Drug prices in Canada start to rise as a result of US demand shortages reported
For the first time in many years drug prices in Canada have started to rise, many say this is due to demand from the USA. Some Canadian pharmacists are saying they are spending much more time now sourcing drugs than they did a few years ago (sourcing drugs = getting their supplies).

From the Chicago Sun Times:
Illinois may help you buy prescription drugs in Europe
Illinois might join Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire by setting up a Web site to help residents buy prescription drugs from Canada and -- in what would be a first-of-its-kind cost-saving measure -- from Europe.

Gov. Blagojevich raised the possibility Tuesday in announcing he's sending a team of about a half-dozen state officials across the Atlantic for two weeks to study the safety of drugs and pharmacies in several European countries.

From the Bennington (VT) Banner:
Canada drug trade could soon be legal
The wall that keeps Vermonters from buying cheaper prescription drugs from Canada may be starting to crumble.

A leading Senate Republican filed legislation this month legalizing the purchase of Canadian pharmaceuticals, and a bipartisan group of senators, led by Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., will add an additional bill today aimed at opening the pharmaceutical markets of industrialized countries to U.S. consumers.
From the Montgomery County (MD) Sentinel:
Lawsuit Challenges Resale of Prescription Drugs in Maryland
Watch out. The prescription medicine that you get from your local pharmacy may have been returned.

Under Maryland law, pharmacies can resale prescription drugs that have been returned as long as the pharmacist can determine that the drug has not deteriorated. The law has recently come into view as a lawsuit in Florida over the illegal resale of prescription drugs has gained coverage. The lawsuit is against Caremark, a giant mail-order pharmacy, which according to a recent article in the US Journal, resold prescription drugs that were returned.

(Editor's note: Not a Canadian pharmacy story, but an interesting read regarding the return and resale of medications, which is allowed in some U.S. states. To my knowledge, this is illegal throughout all of Canada.)
From the Olympian (WA):
Bill would clear way for imports of Canadian drugs
Some of the estimated 1.5 million U.S. residents who rely on Canadian mail-order pharmacies for discounts on brand-name drugs are being referred to Great Britain because drug companies are restricting supplies.

But a bipartisan Senate bill unveiled Wednesday would make it an illegal restraint of trade for pharmaceutical companies to limit supplies as a way of undercutting burgeoning sales from Canada to the United States.

From the Contra Costa (CA) Times:
Senators reconsider medication imports
In an effort to drive down the cost of prescription drugs, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a measure Wednesday that would legalize the importation of cheaper medicines from Canada and eventually from European countries.

"This is a huge breakthrough," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

From Minnesota Public Radio:
Pfizer shareholders reject Pawlenty's prescription plea
Shareholders reacted coolly to a proposed resolution that would've limited Pfizer's drug price increases to the rate of inflation. Ninety-five percent of the shareholders who voted at the meeting opposed the proposal. Nevertheless, Pawlenty says he'll continue to push Pfizer to change its business practices.

If the company won't lower its prices in the U.S., he wants Americans to be able to import their prescriptions from elsewhere. Pawlenty has championed a state Web site that helps Minnesotans fill prescriptions at two Canadian pharmacies, where government price controls keep costs down. In response, Pfizer has limited sales to wholesalers involved in cross-border sales. Pawlenty says the company's resistance to go along with reimportation could hurt Pfizer in the long run.

From In Forum (ND):
Senate support grows for drug imports
A coalition of U.S. senators on Wednesday offered new legislation aimed at ensuring the safety of lower-cost drugs "re-imported" from Canada and other countries.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is active in a bipartisan effort to regulate the importation of prescription drugs from Canada so U.S. consumers can buy medicine – often at steep discounts – with confidence.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Pawlenty makes pitch to Pfizer
When Gov. Tim Pawlenty walked into the Ritz-Carlton hotel Thursday to take part in the Pfizer annual shareholder meeting, there was no mention of "price-gouging," none of the tough talk he often has employed to voice his displeasure with the drug prices paid by American consumers.

Instead, when his turn came to speak, Pawlenty dumped his prepared remarks, opting instead to gently chide Pfizer -- one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies -- for shutting off drug supplies to Canadian pharmacies that supply Minnesota customers and implore it for a chance to "work together" on ways to pressure the federal government to use trade negotiations to lower U.S. prices.

From the Montgomery County (MD) Sentinel:
Council Edges Closer to Canada Drug Imports
The County Council moved one step closer to implementing a prescription drug importation program this week.

A county interagency committee charged last year with studying the issue said on Monday that the council should develop a voluntary drug importation program. The committee estimated that the county could save up to $15 million by purchasing prescription drugs from Canada for its 40,000 current and retired employees.

From the Aberdeen (SD) Daily News:
State's drug benefit plan hasn't crossed border
When South Dakota was seeking bids earlier this year for a new pharmacy benefit manager to run its state employee drug plan, Larry Kucker got a call from a Canadian pharmacy.

Kucker, the state's director of employee benefits, said the offer to save millions of dollars was tempting, but importing drugs from Canada was illegal and South Dakota was not ready to push the envelope.

From the San Diego Union Tribune:
Are drug imports good medicine?
Idun's Steven Mento recently testified against easing restrictions on cheaper imported medicines.

That hollow rattle, the tap of a few pills inside a near-empty plastic prescription drug bottle, has become a hauntingly familiar sound for the California biotechnology industry.

Hundreds of senior citizens, labor representatives and consumer activists – each with a pill bottle strung around their neck on a ribbon – are rattling their way through state legislative hearings and lawmakers' offices to push a package of bills that aim to rein in soaring prescription drug costs.
More in Congress back Canada drug imports
Support for legalizing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada is growing in Congress amid an election-year clamor from states, lawmakers and the elderly.

The White House and Republican congressional leaders remain opposed, saying there is no way to ensure safety. Nonetheless, proponents contend that public frustration with rising drug prices and growing defiance of a federal ban on prescription imports will force action before the November elections.

From Investors Business Daily:
FDA: Probe of Seniors' Bus 'Unfortunate'
A senior Food and Drug Administration official said Wednesday that it was unfortunate his agency stopped and inspected a busload of seniors returning from a medicine-buying trip to Canada.

"This is not consistent with our current practice," said John Taylor, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "I would not expect it to happen again."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

From the Boston Globe:
Senators seek to legalize drug imports from Canada
A group of Democrats and moderate Republicans in the US Senate plans to introduce a bill today that would permit the immediate importation of prescription drugs from Canada and later from Europe, reflecting a growing movement in Congress to make the practice legal.

Among the five sponsors is Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a Democrat whose opposition helped to gut similar legislation last year after it had won approval in the House.

Kennedy changed his position after he failed to reach a compromise on Medicare legislation last year and wound up as one of the biggest critics of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. He has said he opposed the previous bill because he did not believe the House measure contained enough safety provisions. If it can be done safely, he has said, then he is in favor.

From Reuters:
Bipartisan Senate Team Unveils Drug Import Bill
Leading U.S. senators on Wednesday unveiled a bipartisan bill that would let Americans import cheaper U.S.-approved prescription drugs from abroad.

Individuals would be able to buy 90-day supplies of medicines for personal use from qualified Canadian pharmacies. Larger commercial shipments to wholesalers or pharmacies would be limited to Canada for the first year and then expand to approved industrialized nations, including European Union members, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Switzerland.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Dayton protests inspection of 'Rx Express' bus by FDA
Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., wrote to Food and Drug Administration officials Wednesday to protest an FDA inspection of an "Rx Express" bus of seniors returning from a trip to Canada last fall to buy prescription drugs.

"Until the FDA action, those trips were unimpeded by Customs or other federal officials," Dayton wrote in a letter to Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford. "The FDA officials' inspection was extremely stressful to some of the elderly riders and has caused alarm among prospective riders."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Senators announce agreement on imported drugs
A drive to make prescription drug imports legal and force lower prices with global competition picked up momentum Wednesday.

New legislation would make Canadian drug imports legal and then expand to 20 other countries. It is the latest proposal reflecting voter anger about high drug prices - but this one is significant because it drew bipartisan support.

Cheapers Drugs from Northern Neighbors
At the same time, people here in KELOLAND aren't waiting around for congress to give them price relief at the pharmacy. Nine days after opening its doors for the first time, business is booming at Canada drug. In fact, from the time they hang the "open" sign at ten in the morning until the "close" sign takes it's place at five each night, workers say they can hardly keep up with the demand of people wanting to tap into the cheaper prescription pipeline from the North.
From the Toronto Star:
Use of statins could save thousands: Study
The lives of thousands of Canadians with heart disease could be saved with a class of potent cholesterol-lowering drugs but a study suggests many doctors aren't prescribing the medications to those patients who need them the most.
The three-year study of almost 400,000 Ontarians with heart disease over age 65 found that those with the highest risk of heart attack and death were the least likely to be given the drugs, known as statins, said the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"It's a serious problem because we have these life-saving therapies," Dr. Dennis Ko, lead author of the study, said today. "But at this time, from what we observe in Ontario, they are not giving it to the right people.

From Bloomberg:
Dorgan, Kennedy Plan to Introduce Drug-Import Bill
Senators Edward Kennedy, Byron Dorgan and Olympia Snowe, will introduce a bipartisan bill tomorrow that would allow Americans to buy drugs from Canada, where government controls keep prices lower.

Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat; Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, and Snowe, a Maine Republican, will discuss details of their proposal at a press conference tomorrow morning, said Dorgan's spokesman, Barry Piatt. The measure faces competition from at least two other Republican-sponsored bills.

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
Pawlenty takes case to Pfizer
Anyone doubting these are strange political times should consider:

On Thursday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty — a tough-on-crime, pro-business, laissez-faire Republican who launched a Web site showing Minnesotans how to defy the federal government and import drugs from Canada — will tell a major corporation that it makes too much profit.

Then, citing moral and economic grounds, he'll ask the company, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., to make less money.

From Yahoo News:
US governor eyes Europe as source of cheap prescription drugs
The governor of Illinois said that he has commissioned a study to compare the prices of US and European prescription drugs, in the latest twist in the row between state and federal authorities over consumer access to cut-price medicines.

Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, said he had instructed researchers to investigate whether consumers in this Midwestern state could fill their prescriptions safely and more cheaply in Europe than they could at home.

From the Washington Times:
Ill. looks to Europe for cheaper Rx drugs
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is sending a state delegation to Europe to investigate importation of cheaper prescription drugs from overseas.

Blagojevich told a Chicago news conference Tuesday U.S. drug companies are trying to restrict supplies of price-controlled medicines from Canada to keep their drugs from being re-sold in the United States. The governor is already lobbying the federal government to allow state employees to buy prescription drugs from Canada to save money.
From News 9 San Antonio (TX):
The high price of health
With the high price of prescription drugs, many Americans are going north to Canada, where drugs are much more affordable.

About 46 percent of Americans use prescription medication, according to the American Pharmaceutical Association Foundation.

Between 1999 and 2000, the cost of prescription medications in the U.S. rose by more than 17 percent.
From the Financial Times:
Internet drug trade proves a bitter pill for Canada
Stephen Thompson finds it tougher to fill prescriptions these days. "We are spending a lot more time now than three or four years ago on sourcing drugs," he said. "If you are dealing with medication for an elderly person who may not be comfortable switching to an alternative, it can be difficult."

Imported medicines may force US to rethink its drug pricing
The US debate on whether to legalise imports of Canada's cheaper, price-controlled drugs may prove a catalyst for changing federal drug-pricing policy.

There has been a groundswell of municipal, state and federal government support for legalising so-called reimportation, or "parallel imports", in the US.

Budget-strapped cities and states continue to push legal limits by experimentally allowing their residents to import drugs from Canada.

From the Myrtle Beach (SC) Sun News:
FDA, pharmacy groups warn of dangers in imported drugs
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and pharmacy groups on Tuesday launched a campaign meant to warn Missourians about what they call the potential dangers of illegal drug importation.

The FDA teamed up with the Missouri Pharmacy Association and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy in its "Looks Can Be Deceiving" publicity effort to warn that importing drugs from Canada and other countries is unsafe.

Monday, April 19, 2004

From Health Canada:
Important Safety Information Regarding Reports of Serious Hepatic Events in Patients Receiving ACCOLATE® (zafirlukast)
Dear Health Care Professional,

AstraZeneca Canada Inc. in consultation with Health Canada would like to update you on important safety information from post marketing experience with Accolate® (zafirlukast). From 1997 to December 31, 2003, one (1) case of hepatitis, 4 cases of hepatobiliary disorders or possible hepatitis, 1 case of hydrocholecystis and 4 cases of elevated liver enzymes have been reported in Canadian patients receiving Accolate®.

PUBLIC ADVISORY Health Canada Endorsed Important Safety Information on ACCOLATE® (zafirlukast)
AstraZeneca Canada Inc. following discussions with Health Canada would like to update you on important safety information regarding Accolate®, a non-steroidal tablet for chronic treatment of asthma in adults and children 12 years of age and older, available only by prescription.

Analysis of safety databases has shown that some patients taking Accolate® have experienced liver problems, some of which were serious (e.g. hepatitis). Very rarely severe liver injury, including liver failure (which may result in a fatal outcome), has been observed.
From KVAL-TV (OR):
Canada Drug Supply To Close
The solution for many folks needing pricey medications has been to buy them from Canadian pharmacies. A local business that has been helping folks get low cost meds for over a year, is now closing.

The state pharmacy board is cracking down on the local business that's been helping folks save thousands of dollars. That means access to lower cost drugs will be difficult.

From the Fond du Lac (Wisc.) Reporter:
West Bend couple not worried about ordering drugs from Canada
Harvey and Betty Techtman of West Bend stopped at Canada Drug Service in Fond du Lac last week. They were in Fond du Lac to shop and have lunch. The couple, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this month, are in their 80s.

The Techtmans have been ordering prescriptions from Canada through another service and have no anxiety about the safety of drugs coming across the border.

“We live in Arizona during the winter,” said Harvey. “We know a lot of people from Canada, and they are all healthy-looking.”

From WTOP Radio:
Local County Debates Benefits of Importing Drugs
Montgomery County could save as much as $15 million a year if employees and retirees could import prescription drugs from Canada. There is debate being waged by county leaders as some members of the Council move in that direction.

Since February, officials have been studying potential savings from importing drugs from north of the border. Councilman Tom Perez says making bulk purchases of medications could produce substantial savings for employees, retirees and their dependents.
From the Canadian Press:
Springfield saves $2 million in 9 months by buying drugs from Canada
Springfield has saved about $2 million US over the past nine months by buying prescription drugs from Canada for city workers and retirees, the head of the program said Monday.

Chris Collins, the city's insurance director, said about 3,000 of the 20,000 city employees, retirees and their dependents are participating in the voluntary program. Last July, the cash-strapped city became the America's first to turn to cheaper Canadian drugs for its health plan.

From the Boston Globe:
City saves $2 million in nine months on Canadian prescription
The city has saved about $2 million over the past nine months by buying prescription drugs from Canada, according to the head of Springfield's insurance program.

With the encouragement of the city's new mayor, insurance director Chris Collins is trying to get more workers and retirees to sign up for the city's groundbreaking voluntary program, launched in mid-July by former mayor Michael Albano.

From New York Newsday:
The pfight to 'Pfix Pfizer'
A few months ago, Pfizer, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, cut off supplies to wholesalers selling its drugs to Canadian pharmacies or Internet sites that sold to Americans, mostly, seniors seeking cheaper drugs.

Senior groups retaliated urging their members to boycott Pfizer's over-the-counter products, which include Sudafed, Benadryl and Rolaids.

On Thursday, seniors will ratchet up their campaign to "Pfix Pfizer" as dozens gather to protest outside Pfizer's headquarters in Manhattan and at the company's annual meeting in St. Louis.

From the Fond du Lac (Wisc.) Reporter:
Couple stunned when prescription costs exceeded property tax bill
A retired couple with a beautiful home on the Ledge overlooking Fond du Lac realized how exorbitant their prescription costs are when their pharmacy bill for the year was higher than their real estate tax bill.

Bill Ritter, who lives on Ledgewood Drive with his wife, Mary Lou, is becoming something of an expert on prescription prices. The Ritters spend about $6,000 a year on medications.
Drug reimportation has healthy backing in Congress
Call it a senior citizens' revolt. Call it the will of the people. Call it fortuitous timing.

What seemed almost unthinkable a year ago -- congressional approval of legislation to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs in Canada -- may just happen.

When Congress returns this week from its spring recess, one of the issues near the top of its agenda will be the importation and reimportation of drugs from Canada and other countries.

From the Patriot Ledger (Mass.):
Marshfield company to offer Canadian drugs: Towns and their employees would save with program
A South Shore company will offer New England cities and towns a program for providing Canadian prescription drugs to their employees.

The program could save $1.2 million for a group like the Plymouth County Claims Trust, which insures 10,600 employees in 22 towns and several regional school districts, according to Peter Cook, principal of Cook & Co., a general insurance firm in Marshfield that manages self-insurance plans for municipalities.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Research making progress in quest for male version of The Pill
More than 40 years after The Pill hit the market for women, scientists are still trying to come up with a version for men.

"Why?" some women might ask. Men don't get pregnant.

But men do account for nearly a third of all contraceptive use worldwide. And right now, they're basically limited to condoms and vasectomies.
From the Canadian Press:
Health Canada to get clearer picture of prescription drug sales, usage
Health Canada will soon have comprehensive, up-to-date prescription drug databases that it hopes will give the government a better understanding of the drugs Canadians are taking and how they're prescribed.

The department recently put out a call for an $800,000 licence agreement for access to several databases that track information such as monthly sales from the manufacturer to pharmacies and hospitals, as well as specific information about what ailments doctors are prescribing certain drugs for.
From WJLA-TV (DC):
Montgomery County To Recommend Buying Canadian Drugs
Some members of the Montgomery County (website - news) Council will recommend that the county purchase drugs from Canada for employees and retirees to save money, defying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Tom Perez, a council member, is pushing to establish a voluntary program for current and former employees to fill their prescriptions in Canada, where drugs can cost as much as 70 percent less than they do in the United States.
From the Washington Post:
Montgomery Considers Canadian Drug Plan
Some members of the Montgomery County Council will recommend tomorrow that the county save money by purchasing drugs from Canada for employees and retirees in defiance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which says the practice is unlawful.

The FDA is headquartered in Rockville, adding a provocative quality to the effort of council member Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) to establish a voluntary program for current and former employees to fill their prescriptions in Canada, where drugs can cost as much as 70 percent less than they do in the United States.

From the Fond du Lac (Wisc.) Reporter:Local Canadian prescription providers are flooded with calls
Perhaps not since the turbulent ’60s has this country’s neighbor to the north looked so good to so many.

These days, the attraction is not for young draft-resisters who went north to escape military service during the Vietnam war era.

Today, Canada looks good to many older folks, including thousands of senior citizens in Wisconsin who are filling prescriptions at Canadian pharmacies to save money.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

From the Calgary Herald:
Asthma drug maker issues alert
The maker of the asthma drug Accolate is advising patients and their doctors to be on the lookout for signs of liver problems, following some reports of adverse reactions.

AstraZeneca Canada said Friday analysis of safety databases has shown some patients taking Accolate have experienced serious liver problems.

From Bloomberg:
AstraZeneca's Asthma Drug Accolate Tied to Liver Risk
AstraZeneca Plc, Europe's second- largest drugmaker, said some patients taking its Accolate asthma drug have developed liver injuries, including hepatitis and rare cases of organ failure.

The Canadian government advised AstraZeneca to notify doctors and patients, the London-based company said in a statement distributed by Canada NewsWire. A company official didn't immediately return a phone call.

From the (Racine, Wisc.) Journal Times:
Time of his life: Rottino enjoying the chance to play ball
He lives on the edge of the seedy section of Beloit, paying $150 a month for his share of the rent.

He awakens every morning on a mattress in the middle of the living room floor.

When he sleepily walks into the kitchen, he can expect to find sparse cupboards, a stack of dirty dishes and perhaps a couple cans of soda and a half-eaten Happy Meal in the refrigerator.

Vinnie Rottino might have been well on his way to earning a comfortable living as a pharmacist by now.

But instead, it has come to this.

The absolute greatest time of his life.

All that matters to Rottino is that his eyes are trained on breaking pitches as a prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers' organization, not on counting off 30 Altace tablets while filling another monthly prescription.

(Editor's note: Not relating to Canadian pharmacy, but when I saw this unique story of a pharmacist/pro athlete, I thought I would include it.)
From the National Post:
Transborder sales lift drug profits
Pharmaceutical companies actually stand to see larger profits if Americans continue to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, a study by a pair of Boston University researchers suggests.

Drugs sold in Canada are about 40% cheaper than those sold in the United States, spurring Americans to import their medications from Canadian pharmacies, particularly those based on the Internet.

From the Toronto Star:
Action urged on adverse reactions
Canadians need real answers as to why reports of adverse drug reactions have skyrocketed in recent years, according to the country's largest consumer group.

"We should be finding out why," says Joan Huzar, president of the Consumers Council of Canada. "We need to know, is there something wrong with the system for monitoring newer drugs? Or is it something else?"

Huzar calls for mandatory reporting of all adverse drug reactions and wants all new drugs to be placed on probation so consumers can know their true risks and benefits.
From Bloomberg:
Canadian Pharmacies Looking Abroad for Pfizer Drugs
Canadian pharmacies that have been cut off from selling Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor, Viagra and other drugs are seeking supplies abroad and asking customers to slice larger pills into prescribed doses to conserve remaining stock.

Granville Pharmacy, a Canadian Internet drugstore recommended on Wisconsin and Minnesota state Web sites, takes weeks instead of days to fill orders for New York-based Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering Lipitor and the arthritis drug Celebrex as supplies dwindle, said Sharmani Pillay, a Granville pharmacist.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Canadian druggists looking to England
Canadian pharmacies that have been cut off from selling prescription drugs made in the United States are seeking supplies abroad and asking customers to slice larger pills into prescribed doses to conserve remaining stock.

U.S. drugmakers, including Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., have notified Canadian pharmacies that wholesaler orders that increase sharply will not be filled. Such changes suggest the drugs are being shipped outside Canada to the United States, said Ed Sagebiel, a Lilly spokesman.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Doyle decries U.S. drug-import policy
Decrying drug company profits and accusing the Food and Drug Administration of "doing the bidding of the drug lobby," Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday defended Wisconsin's Web site that helps people refill prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies at lower cost.

Addressing a federal task force on drug importation, Doyle said Wisconsin, following Minnesota's lead, set up its Web site six weeks ago and has received 87,000 hits - or more than 2,000 a day.
From the Imperial Valley (CA) Press:
Task force hears pros, cons on importing drugs
A federal task force considering whether to end a ban on importing prescription drugs heard conflicting arguments Wednesday — that importation would open the door for counterfeiters but would lower health-care costs for Americans.

Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin pitched importing drugs as a step on the path toward a more affordable prescription drug market.

From the Miami Herald:
Virginia Pharmacists' Group Launches Campaign against Drug Re-Imports
People who want to save money by filling U.S. prescriptions at across-the-border pharmacies are the target of new campaign to get them to skip that option.

The "Looks Can Be Deceiving" campaign by the Food and Drug Administration was launched Tuesday as a project of the 1,500-member Virginia Pharmacists Association.

From the (Racine, Wisc.) Journal Times:
Doyle reaffirms Canadian drug idea
Gov. Jim Doyle told a federal task force on Wednesday that the federal government should allow citizens to import prescription drugs from Canada, and that it should allow states to do so, too.

"I told them about the success of the (state's) Web site, the over 70,000 hits that we've had on it, which just demonstrates the enormous interest out there in lower prescription drugs, and how important it is that we do something to put some real competition into the marketplace here so that the drug companies cannot continue to just impose skyrocketing costs on citizens of Wisconsin and the United States," Doyle said. He spoke in a teleconference with reporters shortly after delivering his testimony.

From CBS New York:
New Concerns Over Anti-Depressant
Cassie Geisenhof's pretty face masked her turbulent home life. Growing up in foster care, she was just 15 when a doctor prescribed Serzone for her depression.

Three months later, Cassie suffered irreversible liver damage. Doctors rushed her in for an emergency liver transplant and blamed the Serzone.
From the Boston Globe:
Study says drug imports may not hurt profits
Boston University researchers say they have found a big hole in the pharmaceutical industry's argument that cheap prescription imports from Canada would hurt profits that fuel critical research for new drugs.

The BU analysis, to be released today, says that drug companies may break even or actually make profits on Canadian imports because the lower-priced imports would spur new prescriptions. If true, that could leave research budgets intact.

From Bloomberg:
Pfizer, Drugmakers May Benefit From Canadian Sales, Study Says
Pfizer Inc. and other drugmakers may benefit when U.S. consumers who can't afford their medicines buy enough of their prescription drugs from Canada, where prices are lower, a Boston University analysis showed.

The increase in sales volume may offset the lower prices on drugs from Canadian pharmacies, which sell for about 40 percent less than the U.S. versions, said Alan Sager, 57, a Boston University health economist who co-wrote the analysis.

From the Detroit News:
Feds examine drug imports
With at least five state governments already providing advice to residents on how to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, a federal task force examining the issue was told Wednesday the trend is unstoppable.

The Bush administration has balked at attempts to make buying drugs from Canada legal because of warnings by the pharmaceutical industry that the imported U.S.-made drugs might not be safe.

“Put some inspectors on a plane, send them to Canada and then find out what we found,” Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle told the task force Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Canadian pharmacy feels the squeeze
A Canadian mail-order firm supplying low-cost drugs to Minnesotans said Wednesday it likely will join others and import medicine from England for resale to Americans.

The action could run afoul of Minnesota officials, who in January endorsed Total Care Pharmacy of Calgary and another firm as safe and reliable, listing their prices and contact information on a state Web site.

Total Care, which also is listed on Web sites operated by the state of Wisconsin and the Minnesota Senior Federation, has a two-week backlog of U.S. orders for the Pfizer company's popular arthritis drug Celebrex, said Andy Troszok, a company official. The imports from England could start in about three weeks, Troszok said. "We have to do something," he added.

From Yahoo News:
Governor Urges Feds to Allow Canada Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) is using "hardball tactics" in its effort to stop traffic in low-cost prescription drugs from Canada, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said Wednesday.

State officials and Internet pharmacies north of the border said they fear credit card companies will quit processing the transactions under pressure from the FDA.

"We're dealing with some hardball tactics," Doyle said, after testifying to a government panel that is exploring whether drug imports from Canada and elsewhere should be made legal.

From the Brockton (Mass.) Enterprise:
Stoughton considers buying Canadian drugs
Selectmen agreed Tuesday night to consider importing prescription drugs from Canada as a way to save the town money.

Selectmen met Tuesday with Jack Sharry of the Insurance Advisory Committee.

Sharry, who was to head for Washington today to testify before the FDA on drug importation, helped establish such a prescription drug program in Worcester.
From the Washington Post:
Drug Importation Foes Speak Out
Although the event was billed as the public's only chance to testify before a federal task force studying the increasingly common practice of drug importation, many of the speakers at yesterday's hearing turned out to have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which has vehemently opposed efforts to legalize buying prescription drugs from Canada or elsewhere.

The day-long session featured criticism of drug importation by a former New York City police commissioner, a former administration attorney and a self-professed patient advocate who all had one thing in common: They receive money from drug makers. Pharmaceutical executives, a representative of the industry's lobbying arm, and consumer groups that receive some industry funding were also given speaking slots.

From the Advocate:
Federal drug reimportation hearing focuses on Norvir
A hearing Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services on the issue of reimporting cheaper medications to U.S. consumers from other Western countries focused on the anti-HIV drug Norvir, which late last year increased in price in the United States by 400%. AIDS groups and consumer advocates argued at the hearing that U.S. citizens should be allowed to purchase medications from foreign pharmacies, particularly those in Canada and other Western nations, where Norvir costs as little as $720 per year. The price hike by Abbott Laboratories on Norvir in the United States raised the drug's cost from about $1,500 per year to nearly $7,800.
From the National Post:
Internet pharmacies clamp-down raises fear of shoddy drugs
Canadian Internet pharmacies may increasingly try to import offshore drugs to sell to U.S. customers as drug companies limit sales into this country, according to a Canadian law firm.

"Where the real mischief is going to lie is, as legitimate sources get cut off ... where do the Internet pharmacies that don't want to play by the rules source from?" asked Richard Dearden, a partner with Gowlings in Ottawa.

From the Sacramento Bee:
Canadian drugstores squeezed
California consumers who buy drugs from Canadian Internet pharmacies will soon see some of those prescriptions filled at drugstores in Europe, complicating legislative efforts to help U.S. patients buy cheaper drugs from north of the border.

Supplies of many popular brand-name prescriptions have become scarce in Canada in recent weeks as drug makers have begun making good on threats to halt medication sales to Canadian pharmacies that export those drugs to the United States.

From the Globe and Mail:
Internet pharmacy to buy in U.K.
In a bid to counter growing supply restrictions by multinational drug giants, Canada's leading Internet pharmacy is going global.Winnipeg-based said that by next week, it plans to give its largely U.S. customers the option of having their prescription orders shipped directly from several licensed pharmacies in Britain.

"Britain is a natural introduction of the global concept because, like Canada, it is considered to be a country with a very safe pharmaceutical sector," Dave Schioler, a Canadameds vice-president, said in an interview yesterday.
From Reuters:
Wisconsin's Governor Urges Making Drug Imports Safe
Lower drug prices in Canada and other countries will keep luring Americans, and the government needs to make sure the medicines people buy are safe, witnesses told a U.S. task force on Wednesday.

"People are going to Canada, whether we like it or not," Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said.

"They are going in bigger and bigger numbers because the simple dollars demand it, and it is the only option that some of them have," said Doyle, who has defied the federal government by running a Web site directing state residents to three Canadian pharmacies.

From the Barrington (RI) Times:
Anguilla bill allows access to drugs from Canada
A local legislator has sponsored a bill that would allow Rhode Islanders to buy lower-priced drugs from pharmacies in Canada. State Representative and Warren Town Solicitor Fausto C. Anguilla of Bristol and Warren introduced the legislation which was reported out of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare last week and is now on the House of Representatives calendar to be heard on April 21.

"My constituents are very concerned about the cost of drugs," said Rep. Anguilla. "Like other Americans, they are paying two, three and even four times as much here for prescriptions as are residents of Canada ... We must all do what we can to help those who rely on prescription drugs for their well-being."

From the Canadian Press:
Canadian groups urge FDA not to help Americans buy cheap drugs
Several opponents of the Internet pharmacy industry urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday not to make it easier for Americans to buy cheap drugs from Canada, arguing patients on both side of the border will suffer.

"I'm here to make sure they understand what is the actual environment in Canada now," Louise Binder, chairwoman of the Canadian Treatment Action Council, said in an interview prior to her presentation before an FDA public hearing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

From Turn to 10 (RI):
Web Site Helps Residents Buy Prescriptions From Canada
Secretary of State Matt Brown has set up a Web site to help Rhode Islanders purchase medications from Canada, where prescription drugs are often substantially cheaper.

The Web site helps to find prices and ordering information for the drugs actually direct computer users to a Web site run by the state of Wisconsin. It, in turn, connects to information on Canadian pharmacies that have been inspected by that state's investigators.

From the Boston Business Journal:
Worcester joins cities buying Canadian drugs
Worcester has adopted a new prescription drug purchasing plan for 9,000 people including a limited option to allow subscribers to buy cheaper medications from Canada.

City officials developed the plan with Group Benefits Strategies in Auburn, which announced the news this week.
Canada Drug Opens for Business
Buying prescription drugs from Canada is big business. While agencies continue to argue whether the practice is even legal, that isn't stopping KELOLAND seniors from signing up.

No one knows the exact numbers, but most estimates are that about 1-million Americans currently get their U.S.-made drugs from Canada. The business is worth as much as 800-million dollars a year, according to the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.
So you can imagine the interest in a new franchise in Sioux Falls called "Canada Drug." Those who are most interested are South Dakota seniors.

When we first talked with Clark Butler five years ago, he was concerned about the rising price of his prescriptions. He says, "You get to be 70-80 years old and you're sick and you cannot afford your medicines. Where do you turn?"
From the Winnipeg Sun:
Drug cutbacks slammed
Canadians are being encouraged by an American organization to report cases when they are unable to get prescription medication due to supply cutbacks by pharmaceutical companies looking to stem the Internet drug trade. "It is appalling for us to contemplate a scenario under which U.S. drug companies create artificial shortages of lifesaving medicines in another country in the hopes of drying up the supply of lower-priced medications for American citizens," said Pam Solo, president of the Massachusetts-based Civil Society Institute.

"This approach hurts Canadian consumers. It hurts U.S. consumers. We want to make sure that drug companies are held accountable for any potentially life-endangering situations they may be creating."

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
Seniors group protesting Pfizer
Minnesota seniors organization on Monday announced a publicity campaign against drug giant Pfizer, saying the company seems to be succeeding in its efforts to block Americans from buying its drugs through Canadian pharmacies.

Leaders of the Minnesota Senior Federation, which runs a drug importation program for its roughly 6,000 members, said they hope to spark "10 days of outrage" before the company's annual meeting in St. Louis on April 22.
From United Press International:
Canada pharmacies face shortage
Pharmacies in Canada are running short of key drugs as major pharmaceutical companies punish them for selling to U.S. seniors by cutting off supplies.

"Our pharmacies are under incredible pressure right now. The supply issue is drastic," Dave Mackey, president of the Canadian International Pharmacist Association, told reporters at a briefing Monday. "Unfortunately, the situation is rather dire."

In January, Pfizer cut off shipments of its drugs to more than 70 Canadian pharmacies that sell to U.S. customers. Company officials, who did not return phone calls by UPI's HealthBiz, have said they are concerned about their Canadian pipeline and that allowing the reimportation of drugs could lead to counterfeit products on the market, resulting in a health safety issue.

From the Winston Salem (NC) Journal:
Alamance County could let employees chance to buy drugs in Canada
Alamance County officials may join another North Carolina county and offer its employees the option of purchasing prescription drugs from Canadian suppliers.

County Manager David Cheek said he's examining a plan that would have employees receive their prescriptions from a Canadian drug supplier to try and offset the rising cost of health coverage.
From the Boston Globe:
Canadian Internet pharmacies seek supplies
Canadian Internet pharmacies are turning to Europe for supplies, as pharmaceutical companies are choking off prescription drugs sent north of the border to stop the flow of cheap medicines back to the United States.

In the last six weeks, several drug makers have increasingly cut supplies to Canada, creating drug shortages for Internet pharmacies. Pfizer Inc., for example, cut off two Canadian wholesalers in February for supplying drugs to companies that were exporting them. Pfizer later resumed shipments to both companies after they agreed to stop doing so.

From the Aberdeen (SD) News:
Prescription importer draws criticism
A mail-order drug company opened in Sioux Falls Monday, immediately drawing complaints from state pharmaceutical representatives.

Brent Christopherson, president of Canada Drug of South Dakota, said he can save consumers up to 80 percent by helping them import prescription drugs from Canada.

Monday, April 12, 2004

From the Toronto Star:
Report drug 'artificial shortages,' Canadians told
Canadians are being encouraged by an American organization to report cases where they are unable to get prescription medication due to supply cutbacks by pharmaceutical companies looking to stem the Internet drug trade.

"It is appalling for us to contemplate a scenario under which U.S. drug companies create artificial shortages of life-saving medicines in another country in the hopes of drying up the supply of lower-priced medications for American citizens," said Pam Solo, president of the Massachusetts-based Civil Society Institute.

While Solo said she had no evidence that companies are holding back supplies, she said there is growing concern about drug shortages on both sides of the border.

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
MN Senior Federation seeks to pressure Pfizer over Canada cutoff
A Minnesota seniors organization on Monday announced a publicity campaign against drug giant Pfizer, saying the company seems to be succeeding in its efforts to block Americans from buying its drugs through Canadian pharmacies.

Leaders of the Minnesota Senior Federation, which runs a drug importation program for its roughly 6,000 members, said they hope to spark "10 days of outrage" before the company's annual meeting in St. Louis on April 22.

From Reuters:
U.S. Seniors' Group Urges Pfizer Drug Boycott
A senior citizens' advocacy group on Monday urged consumers to boycott Pfizer Inc.'s over-the-counter medicines, to protest the No. 1 drug maker's efforts to stem the flow of prescription drugs from Canada.

The Minnesota Senior Federation said it called for the boycott of Pfizer's nonprescription products, which include antacid Rolaids and cold medicine Sudafed, to protest Pfizer's move to cut off sales of prescription drugs to some Canadian wholesalers.

U.S. pharmaceutical companies are stepping up the battle to halt prescription drug sales from Canada, as consumers and employers grapple with domestic double-digit medical cost inflation.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

From the Nanaimo (BC) Daily News:
New report slams antidepressants for children
The benefits of antidepressants prescribed to thousands of Canadian toddlers, children and teens have been exaggerated and the risks downplayed, according to a disturbing new report that's raising concerns about the drugs' potential for harm.

And the researchers who wrote it conclude there is no evidence to justify prescribing these drugs to children.

From the Twin Cities (Minn.) Business Journal:
Minnesota Senior Federation to join campaign against Pfizer
The Minnesota Senior Federation is set to join a national campaign against pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.

At a press conference Monday, the federation will announce it is joining a nationwide campaign to protest New York-based Pfizer's actions pressuring Canadian pharmacies not to sell the company's medications to American customers.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Canadian drugs Benson bought didn't come right from maker
The prescription drugs Gov. Craig Benson purchased from a Canadian Web site may have passed through the hands of several sellers before arriving in his mailbox.

In promoting his plan to import prescription drugs last week, Benson held up a bottle of medicine he'd ordered from a Canada-based Internet pharmacy a month earlier.

The bottle contained Lipitor, used to treat high cholesterol. Vouching for the pills' safety, Benson noted the bottle bore the imprint of the drug's manufacturer, Pfizer.

"This refutes the false claims of the pharmaceutical industry, who only wish to scare our seniors," that the drugs might not be genuine, Benson said.

But since November, Pfizer has refused to ship any of its medicines directly to Benson's chosen pharmacy, That means Benson's drugs probably took a more circuitous route to New Hampshire, the Sunday Monitor reported.
From the Washington Times:
Grassley eyes cheap drugs from Canada
A leading Senate Republican last week began pushing legislation to legalize the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada, where they are sold cheaper — an idea supported by several states and cities.

The bill — introduced Thursday by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who heads the Senate Finance Committee — would immediately open the door for American consumers to buy the cheaper prescription drugs, while requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a new system for drug importation.

From In Forum (ND):
Dorgan offers prescription drug project
North Dakota could serve as a vast laboratory for an experiment allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs legally from Canada at steep discounts.

But instead of long drives to places like Winnipeg, as untold numbers of North Dakotans now do, consumers would be able to shop at their local pharmacy.

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Feds studying Dorgan plan for Canadian drug imports
The Bush administration is studying a proposal for a two-year pilot project that would allow North Dakota pharmacists buy medicine from their Canadian counterparts and resell it.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said his Prairie Prescriptions Pilot Project could save North Dakotans up to $81 million a year.

From the Bismarck (ND) Tribune:
Stopgaps OK, but it's Congress' mess
Unfair pricing policies by the prescription drug industry have forced the American people to break the law and have put states and insurance companies in the position of being accomplices in crime.

Simply put, a person can buy many American-made prescription drugs cheaper in Canada than in the United States.

The difference in price can be substantial, especially for people who have a long-term need for a particular prescription.
From the Louisville (KY) Courier Journal:
Canada drug shop closes
A Louisville business that sells prescription drugs from Canada has closed its storefront on Taylorsville Road for lack of business, though it still serves customers by phone and mail.

Meanwhile, the state attorney general has decided not to file charges against the business. Instead, it recently referred the matter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

From the Macon (GA) Telegraph:
Illinois Pushes FDA on Canadian Drugs
Illinois officials on Thursday demanded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration respond to their proposal for a state pilot program to let residents buy prescription drugs from Canada.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Attorney General Lisa Madigan said they were filing a citizen's petition with the FDA. That will force the agency to respond within six months, they said, and Illinois could then take the matter to court if the FDA says no.

From the Boston Herald:
Pols take on U.S. Medicare, drug stances
A powerful senate Republican leader introduced a bill yesterday that would immediately make it legal to import prescription drugs from Canada.

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Congress should ease the way for drug imports and ensure they are safe.

"Free trade principles argue for allowing importation of drugs from Canada and other countries as long as those drugs are safe,'' Grassley said.

From Reuters:
Senate Republican Offers Drug Import Plan
leading U.S. Senate Republican on Thursday unveiled a plan that would make it legal for Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said he was introducing a bill to allow drug imports because consumers were demanding cheaper medicines and the Food and Drug Administration had declined to create a safe importation plan.

"If we don't do this, I think there's going to be a penalty paid at the ballot box in November. The American consumer is waiting," Grassley, who is from Iowa, said on the Senate floor.

From NBC 4 Columbus (OH):
Consumer Alert: Beware Of Alleged Internet Drug Scam
Imagine looking at your checking account statement and finding a charge for $139 you didn't make. It's happening to people all over the country and authorities say a Canadian company is behind it.

A Baltimore-area woman, Sharon Sheckels, keeps a close watch on her bank statement. Last month, she discovered someone had taken $139 out of her checking account.

"I didn't authorize it," said Sheckels. "Nobody authorized it and they had no right to take it from me."

From the Globe and Mail:
Pill regulations make for a long morning after
Sarah had a steady boyfriend for several months and they were always careful to use condoms when having sex. Then came a Friday night when they were celebrating the end of exams last December, when "we got a bit too drunk and, you know, carried away."

When she awoke the next morning, the 21-year-old student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., had a pounding headache that soon gave way to a bout of panic.
From the Bismarck (ND) Tribune:
Hoeven promotes new prescription drug site
A state Web site to help residents find cheaper medicines in North Dakota and Canada should help pressure the federal Food and Drug Administration to change its stance against reimportation of prescription drugs, Gov. John Hoeven says.

The site directs users to three programs, including a North Dakota preferred drug list and two Canadian Internet pharmacies. It is superior to sites from other states that only have links to Canadian companies, Hoeven said.

"I think it's better that we give them the best options through their local pharmacy first, and only then say, 'OK, here's a couple of (Canadian) pharmacies that we've evaluated,'" Hoeven said Monday.

Blue Cross to cover drug buys made from Canada
Food and Drug Administration officials Tuesday said they would allow Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota to reimburse clients for prescription drugs purchased from Canada and other countries.

Blue Cross will reimburse members for purchases they made April 1 and after for drugs covered under its insurance plans. Some limitations could be put on drugs ordered through the mail and Internet sites, but a decision hasn't been made yet, said Larry Gauper, vice president of communications for Blue Cross.

From the Boston Globe:
Surgeon general wary of drug imports
Counterfeiting operations could complicate the development of a safe and cost-effective program for importing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said yesterday.

Carmona said drug makers made compelling arguments during a forum Monday that legalizing importation would make it easier for drug counterfeiters to market unsafe products.

From the Globe and Mail:
Jean Coutu goes where others fear to tread -- the United States
With its blockbuster purchase of more than 1,500 Eckerd drugstores, Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. is aiming to blow up a hoary old Canadian myth -- that our retailers are doomed to fail in the tough U.S. market.

The Montreal-based pharmacy titan is the ideal candidate to bury this belief. It has tested the U.S. market, built a sizable business there, and shows a willingness to go for substantial scale in a $2.4-billion (U.S.) deal.
From the Toronto Star:
War on drug costs waged on Web
Its origins are modest — a young, small-town pharmacist on the Prairies looking to generate some extra cash by offering savings to Americans trying to kick the habit.

But today, four years after Andrew Strempler began selling over-the-counter Nicorette gum to smokers on eBay, the simple idea is the force behind Canada's burgeoning Internet pharmacy business, shipping cheaper prescription drugs to homes across the U.S.

His success has made him, his partners and others who pioneered the business, wealthy, inspiring dozens of others in an industry expected to top $1 billion (all figures U.S.) in sales this year.

Canada Drug
People in growing numbers, even some governments, are crossing the border into Canada to buy prescription drugs to save money. Yet, despite the shutdown of a similar operation in Watertown, a Sioux Falls business plans to open doors to prescription savings Monday morning.

That business goes by the name of "Canada Drug", we'll tell you why that's important in just a minute. But first a bit about how it works. The company's president tells me it's not a pharmacy and that neither he, nor his Sioux Falls associates, is a pharmacist. The company, however, is closely affiliated with seven licensed pharmacies in Canada, allowing it to pass on big savings to South Dakotans looking for cheaper prescriptions.

From the Wahpeton (ND) Daily News:
State run Canadian drug site concerns pharmacists
Gov. John Hoeven's decision to support prescription drug sites has local pharmacists worried about the safety of ordering drugs through the internet.

Pharmacist Laurie Straus of Wahpeton Drug Store said this plan takes away from the patient/pharmacist relationship.

From the News Observer (NC):
Caldwell County offers employees chance to buy drugs in Canada
Caldwell County commissioners are trying to enlist other governments in their effort to change state and federal laws regarding the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada.

The county has cut its own health care costs by connecting employees with those suppliers, but state and federal agencies say the purchases could expose users to potentially dangerous drugs.

From the New Orleans Times Picayune:
Pharmaceutical interests testify in Baton Rouge
Sen. James David Cain, R-Dry Creek, said he hears it from frustrated constituents every time he goes back to his district.

"I can't go home because people are complaining about the pharmaceutical costs," Cain said.

But three hours of testimony by pharmaceutical interests before the Senate Insurance Committee on Wednesday produced little consensus on how to solve a problem that has bedeviled state lawmakers across the country.

From the Charlotte (NC) Observer:
Caldwell County turns to Canada to cut drug costs
Caldwell County is cutting health-care costs by connecting employees with Canadian prescription drug suppliers, but state and federal agencies say the purchases are illegal and expose users to potentially dangerous drugs.

County officials say they're acting to change state and federal laws, which they say keep drug prices artificially high. The officials are trying to enlist other governments in the effort.

From the (Lafayette, LA) Advertiser:
State may start buying drugs from Canada
A Senate committee is “starting the conversation” about allowing 200,000 state employees and their dependents on state group insurance to buy prescription drugs from cheaper Canadian mail-order suppliers as have Minnesota, Wisconsin and several large cities.

American pharmaceutical company lobbyists and Canadian mail-order pharmacy companies debated the issue Wednesday before the Senate Insurance Committee, which took no action. But Sen. James David Cain, D-Dry Creek, said he arranged for the discussion “because I get hit with this everywhere I go.”

From the Newport News (OR) Times:
Canada Drug Supply closes doors following threat of prosecution
The threat of closure started only a week after Daryl Jané opened Canada Drug Supply last October. On Friday, the other shoe dropped and Jané closed his doors.

Canada Drug Supply connected clients to a large Canadian pharmacy so they could purchase prescription drugs directly from Canada. The savings are usually about 50 to 75 percent, depending on the drug.

Last month, the Oregon State Board of Pharmacy shut down a similar business called Canada Drug Service in Tigard. The state subpoenaed the business' records and threatened to levy heavy fines if it did not cease operation. The owners, Glen and Diane Bremer, signed an agreement that spared them prosecution if they closed their business.

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
North Dakota Tackles Drug Cost Issue
A state Web site to help residents find cheaper medicines in North Dakota and Canada should help pressure the federal Food and Drug Administration to change its stance against reimportation of prescription drugs, Gov. John Hoeven says.

The site directs users to three programs, including a North Dakota preferred drug list and two Canadian Internet pharmacies. It is superior to sites from other states that only have links to Canadian companies, Hoeven said.