Sunday, May 30, 2004

From the Sacramento Business Journal:
Oh, Canada! Stores selling cheap drugs can't beat HMOs
A storefront in Carmichael that sold prescription drugs from Canada at cut-rate prices has closed its doors due to lack of business.

Another medicine-from-Canada venture on Arden Way continues to operate but demand has slowed to roughly four or five patients a day.

The dream of making big bucks by helping desperate patients get cheap drugs from Canada hasn't panned out in Greater Sacramento because most people here have insurance that gives them a better deal.

From Newsday (NY):
A cross-border drug supplier is reborn
Our thanks to reader Bud S., formerly of Commack, now of Lake Worth, Fla., who led us to discover that one of the pioneers in helping Americans gain access to Canadian prescription drugs has shut down, partly because of pressure from the Bush administration.

In this case, the administration speaks with forked tongue. For while the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services try to prevent us from buying Canadian drugs, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson says that if Congress passes legislation to allow it, he'd tell the president to sign.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
FDA calls Minnesota drug plan 'irresponsible'
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says a Minnesota program to eliminate co-payments for state employees who buy low-cost drugs from Canadian Internet pharmacies is "irresponsible" in terms of consumer safety.

The program "encourages your citizens to seek medications from outside the safety net provided by U.S. drug laws designed to ensure consumer safety," William Hubbard, U.S. Food and Drug Administration assistant commissioner for policy and planning, wrote in his second letter to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican.
From the Globe and Mail:
Internet drug sales may cause Canada pain
A new willingness in the U.S. Senate and Bush administration to legalize on-line drug imports from Canada is beginning to rattle through the corridors of Parliament Hill.

''Six months ago, Ottawa's position was this was an issue for Americans to solve: namely, reducing the cost of drugs in the U.S.,'' said one drug industry official.

"Now, with the reality of legalized imports from Canada, it's suddenly become a Canadian issue."
From the Sacramento Bee:
Assembly OKs Web site to help Californians buy cheaper Canadian drugs
Responding to consumer complaints about the high cost of prescription drugs, the state Assembly voted Wednesday to create a state Web site to help Californians buy cheaper medications through Canadian pharmacies.

By a 48-17 vote, lawmakers sent the Senate a bill by Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Los Angeles, that would require the Department of Health Services to set up the site by July 1, 2005.

It would require the Web site to include a comparison of prices charged in California and Canada for the 50 most commonly prescribed brand-name medications and to list links to Canadian pharmacies that meet requirements designed to ensure the drugs they sell are safe.
From the Tallahassee (FL) Democrat:
FDA suggests inspection program for Canadian pharmacies
After months of hammering Minnesota over its program that helps people buy low-priced prescription drugs from Canada, the Food and Drug Administration is offering the state an opening.

In a letter sent this week, FDA Associate Commissioner Bill Hubbard asked Gov. Tim Pawlenty if he would be willing to participate in an inspection of Canadian pharmacies with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

The suggestion came at the end of a letter in which Hubbard chastised the governor for a new state program that allow state employees to obtain certain prescription drugs for free if they order from a state-inspected Canadian pharmacy.
From KTLA-TV (Calif.):
Drug Firms Say, 'No, Canada'
The name they picked is Cures, but the drug makers, biotech millionaires and pharmacists who founded the group aren't searching for the next miracle drug.

They are looking for votes from the California Legislature.

The lobbying group is just one of several altruistic-sounding entities with financial links to the drug industry that have materialized around the Capitol. They want to kill a flood of legislation — including four measures being voted on this week — that would ease the way for drug imports from Canada.

Massachusetts senators push state website for Canadian drugs
Massachusetts would create an official website to help residents buy lower cost prescription drugs from Canada under a plan approved by the state senate on Thursday.

The proposal requires Gov. Mitt Romney to seek a U.S. government waiver to create a new Office of Pharmaceutical Information in the Department of Public Health, to provide information to residents about how to buy safe, inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada. The office would be required to establish relationships only with Canadian suppliers that have been licensed by the Canadian government.

Supporters said the plan will help cash-strapped seniors and others struggling with the spiralling cost of medicine.
From the Globe and Mail:
Physician, heal thy handwriting
Patients who visit Alan Brookstone's doctor's office in Richmond, B.C., are noticing a dramatic difference in the prescriptions he is writing these days: They can read them.

That's because Dr. Brookstone's prescription pads have gone missing. The familiar sound of their doctor's pen scribbling a note to a pharmacist has been replaced by a quiet tapping, as he pecks a plastic stylus against a metal object slightly larger than a sheet of paper and about two centimetres thick.
From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
Potomac Watch: Debate on prescription drug imports is how, not if
The debate over importation of cheap prescription drugs from other countries has shifted here from arguments about whether the practice should be done to how it should be done.

The House already has passed a bill to further legalize and regulate importation and several bills are working through the Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has promised a floor vote on the issue this year. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has said government approval of importation is "inevitable" and even industry opponents concede defeat.

"We started sensing (a shift) beginning early this year," said Robert Falb, congressional affairs director for the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, the industry group for wholesale distributors of prescription drugs.
From the Louisville (KY) Courier Journal:
Buying medicine abroad backed
Almost two-thirds of Kentuckians want the federal government to make it easier to buy prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, according to The Courier-Journal's Bluegrass Poll.

Sixty-three percent of the 811 adults surveyed May 5-11 said they favor a change in federal policy to facilitate such drug purchases.

"My aunt is 82 years old, and she pays hundreds of dollars for her medications," said Carolyn Gore of Louisville, a poll participant who agreed to an interview about her views.
From the Toronto Star:
Medical errors affect 1 in 13
One in every 13 patients treated in hospital is at risk of suffering an unintended injury or complication that results in death, disability or delayed hospital discharge, according to the first study of "adverse events" in Canadian hospitals.

About 185,000 patients are harmed while being treated in hospital each year, with between 9,000 and 24,000 patients dying after experiencing a surgical accident or medical oversight.

The numbers are probably an underestimate, said Dr. Peter Norton, co-author of the research and head of the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary.
From WKYT-TV (KY):
Poll: 63% Want Drug Purchases From Canada
A majority of Kentuckians want the federal government to change policy and make it easier to buy prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, according to a newspaper poll.

In a Bluegrass Poll conducted by the Courier-Journal between May 5-11, 63 percent of 811 adult respondents said they would favor such a change in federal policy.
From the Tallahassee (FL) Democrat:
Canadian imports may be an option
Leon County may be looking north to Canada in hopes of lowering its prescription drug costs - even though doing so would violate federal law.

Commissioner Bob Rackleff is asking county staff to explore the feasibility of a program allowing the county to purchase medicine from Canada. Commissioners will vote on whether to proceed with the idea during a meeting tonight.

Although Congress has banned importing drugs from other countries, Rackleff said the federal government has not prosecuted people or governments that do so. Cities such as Montgomery, Ala. and Springfield, Mo., and states such as Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and Wisconsin have such programs in place, he said.
From the Phoenix Business Journal:
Kyl defends opposition to Canadian drug imports
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is questioning the reliability and safety of Canadian prescription drugs that fellow Arizona Republicans want to allow into the U.S. market.

There is growing support at the state and federal levels to lift Food & Drug Administration restrictions on less expensive Canadian drugs into the U.S.

Arizona Sen. John McCain is one of the leading advocates of drug importation and Valley GOP Congressmen J.D. Hayworth and Jeff Flake also back such a move. The aim is to offer less expensive prescription drugs in the face of skyrocketing costs. "

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Net pharmacies think global in battle to keep supply flowing
Andrew Strempler wants Americans to know that he still has cholesterol-lowering Lipitor for sale.

''We've been running with a one- to two-week stock of Pfizer products and six weeks of non-Pfizer,'' said the president of Minnedosa, Man.-based Mediplan Health Consulting Inc., one of Canada's largest Internet pharmacies.

Even though drug giant Pfizer Inc., which makes Lipitor and a basket of other blockbuster drugs, is spearheading a campaign to strangle the sale of low-cost Canadian drugs to Americans, Mr. Strempler claims his two plants are still dispensing 2,000 to 2,500 prescriptions a day at an average value of $225 (U.S.) to $250 each.

Monday, May 24, 2004

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Canadian pharmacies fill prescriptions with unapproved generics, group says
Three Canadian pharmacies have filled some Wisconsin residents' prescriptions with unapproved generics instead of the brand-name drugs that actually were prescribed, the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin has charged.

The pharmacies are listed on Wisconsin's state-sponsored Web site for buying drugs from Canada.

The three pharmacies also have mailed drugs that require refrigeration, such as insulin, the trade group said. Drugs requiring refrigeration lose their potency if not kept cool, the society said.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

From the Montreal Gazette:
Pharmacies look to quash prescription drug companies' blacklists
Four Canadian pharmacies have filed complaints with the federal Competition Bureau to stop drug companies from blacklisting them as part of an effort to quash cross-border Web sales.
From the Globe and Mail:
Prescription needed for pharmacist shortage
Ron Elliott has been a pharmacist in St. Thomas, Ont., since 1985. While he says he loves his job, he's found it has become more demanding over the years.

Like many Canadian pharmacists, particularly in rural areas, Mr. Elliott often finds himself short-staffed. In fact, he only recently succeeded in filling one of two vacancies he has had since August.

"My average week in the dispensary has grown from what used to be about 30 to 35 hours a week to now, averaging between 55 and, some weeks, 70 [hours]," he says. "I pick up the extra shifts when we're short."
From the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal:
Growing numbers turn to Canada to buy cheaper prescription drugs
For about three months, Charles Wingfield has been ordering his prescription drugs through Discount Medicine of Canada, a store located off Grant Line Road in New Albany, Ind.

The Louisville retiree said he figures that buying Canadian drugs for his breathing and blood pressure has saved him about $100 over that period.

"I am delighted with it," said Wingfield, 76. "That fits very well in my wallet."

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

From Bloomberg:
U.S. Senate to Hear Testimony on Importing Drugs From Canada
U.S. senators will hear testimony today about the safety of importing drugs from Canada as support grows among Republican and Democratic lawmakers to legalize purchases from countries where drug prices are lower.

Senators including Republicans Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Charles Grassley of Iowa, and a group led by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan and Maine Republican Olympia Snowe are pressing to legalize imports to reduce medical costs for state employees, retirement programs and the elderly.

From the Fort Wayne (IN) News Sentinel:
Coleman to push safety provisions in bill to allow drug imports
Sen. Norm Coleman said he would abandon his opposition to the importation of cheaper prescription drugs if a new bill includes a set of safety provisions he will introduce this week.

Coleman, R-Minn., has long argued against importing drugs from countries such as Canada because he said the safety of the drugs could not be guaranteed.

On Wednesday, he said he was hopeful that his safety proposals would be adopted into legislation being prepared by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who chairs the Senate Health Committee.

Access to Canadian internet pharmacies subject of U.S. lawsuit
Manitoba's internet pharmacies are at the centre of a class-action lawsuit being filed in the United States.

The Minnesota Seniors' Federation and other plaintiffs claim that nine major drug companies have conspired to block the supply of drugs to Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies that sell them to Americans.

From Minnesota Public Radio:
Seniors group files lawsuit over Canada imports
The suit claims the drug companies are conspiring to limit drug sales to any Canadian pharmacy that sells prescription drugs to Americans. Chicago-based attorney Marvin Miller filed the suit with the help of the Minnesota Senior Federation. He's asking the court to make it a class action suit, so it would include all affected consumers, not just the three plaintiffs named in the filing. He says consumers would benefit if drug companies allowed cross-border sales because of increased competition between American and Canadian pharmacies. Miller says he's seeking attorneys' fees, unspecified damages and a stop to the companies' anti-import efforts.

"We believe that they did meet, that they did confer and that they implemented a policy or policies to threaten to cut off the supply of pharmaceuticals to Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies when those prescription drugs would come back into the United States," Miller says.
From Reuters (UK):
Canada Mulls Re-Export Curbs on U.S.-Made Drugs
Canada is considering controls on Internet pharmacies that re-export U.S.-made drugs to the United States, Canadian government and industry sources said on Wednesday.

"I can tell you an export control list and export taxes have been discussed twice so far this year at the cabinet level," one source said. Three other sources corroborated that a committee of cabinet ministers discussed those options and that the ideas remain under consideration.

Large U.S.-based drug companies have warned Canadian pharmacies that ship lower-cost medicines to U.S. patients to halt the practice or risk being cut off.
From KTLA-TV (CA):
O.C. to Study Canada Drugs
An Orange County supervisor wants to consider allowing county employees to buy prescription drugs from Canada — a practice prohibited by federal law — to reduce healthcare costs.

Supervisor Chuck Smith said he will ask the board to study the potential cost savings and legal liability of allowing county workers to defy the Food and Drug Administration and buy drugs from Canada.

Many name-brand prescription drugs are cheaper in Canada because of its federal government's price restrictions.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

From the New York Times:
Morning-After Pill in Canada: Prescription May Not Be Needed
The government proposed on Tuesday to allow women to obtain the so-called morning-after birth control pill without a prescription at any pharmacy in Canada.

The proposal needs to go through a review by Health Canada, the chief medical regulatory agency, but it is expected to meet final approval in the next few months.

The move comes only weeks after the acting director of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States declined to allow the morning-after pill to be sold without a prescription.

Ottawa to make morning-after-pill more accessible
Health Canada is moving ahead with plans to make the morning-after-pill available without a prescription, but it may still require consultation with a pharmacist before purchase.

By doing so, women would get more timely access to emergency contraceptives, Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew said in a statement.

"Making the drug available in pharmacies without a prescription will help women to prevent unwanted pregnancies," he said.

From the Seattle Times:
Canadian clinics cutting off drugs for Americans
Canadian medical clinics are quietly informing American patients they will no longer help them obtain prescription drugs, after stern warnings from a major insurer that doctors who are sued by Americans won't be covered.

The move threatens to restrict access to cheaper drugs purchased by hundreds of thousands of Americans who visit Canadian clinics or buy online from Canadian pharmacies.

Monday, May 17, 2004

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
Minnesota drug plan may be illegal
A federal official said a plan by the state of Minnesota to buy drugs from Canada for state employees may be illegal.

William Hubbard, the associate commissioner for policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said he will tell Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a letter that the agency is concerned about the plan.

Hubbard has already sent Pawlenty a letter about the state Web site that links Minnesotans to Canadian drug companies.

From USA Today:
U.S. drug needs would overwhelm Canada
Canada has doubled its imports of prescription drugs since 1999 — a period that saw U.S. residents increasingly buying drugs from Canada — and would be unable to meet the demand created if U.S. law allowed greater access.

That's the conclusion of a University of Texas-Austin researcher, who studied the issue at the request of two congressmen, using government data from both countries. The study, out Monday, attempts to quantify the potential impact of U.S. demand for pharmaceuticals on Canada and will likely spur further debate about opening U.S. borders to medications from abroad.

From the Globe and Mail:
America's new war on drugs targets Canadian pharmacists
In the United States's new war on drugs, small-town Canadian pharmacists like David Byers are the ones caught in the crossfire.

The New Brunswick pharmacy owner is one of dozens across the country who must to stop selling prescription drugs to U.S. residents after the pharmaceutical giants got tough and cut off their supply.

Some retailers have let go of staff because of the drop in business when they stopped shipping south. One, Sun Valley Pharmacy in Altona, Man., closed last month.

From the Fort Worth (TX) Star Telegram:
States look to Canada to find cheaper prescriptions
Those faced with high prescription drug costs who are weary of buying their drugs in Canada or over the Internet have two unusual allies: the governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Both have sent health officials to Canada to investigate Internet drugstores based there and subsequently put links to those pharmacies on state-run Web sites.

Because Canadian prescription drug prices are regulated, prices are generally lower than in the United States, sometimes significantly lower.

From the Decatur (IN) Daily Democrat:
Prescription crusade gains momentum
When a Bush administration Cabinet member said last week that ``Congress is going to pass'' legislation permitting consumers to buy lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad, it sounded like a policy turnaround.

Actually, the White House still strongly opposes the legislation, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson wasn't embracing the idea, just recognizing the inevitable.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
FDA says Minnesota drug plan may be illegal
A federal official said a plan by the state of Minnesota to buy drugs from Canada for state employees may be illegal.

William Hubbard, the associate commissioner for policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said he will tell Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a letter that the agency is concerned about the plan.
From the Billings (MT) Gazette:
Minnesota launches Canadian-drug program
Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday a new program that will allow state employees to obtain certain prescription drugs for free if they order the medication from a state-inspected Canadian pharmacy.

The program applies to 45 of the most popular name-brand medicines that do not have generic alternatives. State officials estimate savings of $1.4 million a year because the drugs can be purchased for less in Canada.

About 120,000 employees and their dependents would be eligible. The state would cover shipping fees, along with the $15 monthly co-payments that are required for each prescription if employees buy their medicines from U.S. pharmacists.

From Medical News Today:
Minnesota State employees will get prescription drugs free from Canada
The Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlentry, said that a new program is being set up which will make it possible for Minnessota state employees to get some prescription drugs completely free if they order the drugs from a state-inspected Canadian pharmacy.

The drugs included in this plan are 45 of the most popular prescription brand names for which there are no generics available. The savings could amount to about $1.4 million per year. Prescription drugs in Canada are much cheaper than they are in the USA. In fact, prescription drugs are cheaper everywhere when compared to USA prices.

From the San Fransisco Chronicle:
Democrats want task force on drug imports to speed recommendations
Speed it up, Democratic governors and lawmakers are telling a Bush administration task force that is looking at legalizing prescription drug imports.

The panel, made up of federal health officials, held its final public meeting Friday. Its recommendations to Congress aren't due until after the election, but Surgeon General Richard Carmona, the chairman, said its findings would be sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson by the fall, perhaps sooner. "I don't want to stifle discussion or important input, but I want to keep the process moving along," Carmona said.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Petro pushes Canadian drug plan
One of Ohio's top elected officials is asking the federal government to allow the importation of low-cost drugs from Canada.

Attorney General Jim Petro joined 19 other state attorneys general in asking Tommy Thompson, the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to authorize their system for permitting Canadian drugs to enter the United States.

"There needs to be immediate action - right now - to help relieve the financial burden faced by so many Ohioans who need prescription drugs," Petro said.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

From Health Canada:
Important Safety Update: Diarrhea and Ischemic Colitis in Patients Using ZELNORM* (tegaserod hydrogen maleate)
From the Globe and Mail:
'Herbal Viagra' can contain real drugs
Some "herbal" and "all-natural" versions of the anti-impotence drug Viagra actually contain the real thing, and could pose a serious health risk to people who take them, Canadian researchers are warning.

"These are being marketed as being safe and natural products, but it is plausible that deaths have occurred or could occur," Neil Fleshner, a urologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, said yesterday.

From the Toronto Star:
Bayer bids to market pot-based MS drug in Canada
Pharmaceutical giant Bayer HealthCare has applied to market a marijuana-based drug in Canada. If approved, it would be the first cannabis-based drug legally available in this country for the relief of debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis and severe neuropathic pain.

Bayer and GW Pharmaceuticals of Britain announced Tuesday they had filed a new drug submission to Health Canada for Sativex, an oral spray developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Bayer.
From the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle:
Push to import drugs grows
The push for legislation to legalize imports of prescription drugs is gaining momentum, with some major drugstore chains, a number of state attorneys general and several insurance companies endorsing the idea.

Drug manufacturers remain adamantly opposed. But Tommy Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, said last week he thought passage of legislation to allow imports of lower-cost medicines was inevitable.

From the Telegraph (UK):
Glaxo fights on to protect pricing
Glaxo Smithkline, the UK pharmaceutical giant, said yesterday it was "disappointed" that a US court had decided to allow the Minnesota attorney general to continue an investigation into its Canadian drug supply policy.

Drug companies, including Glaxo, limit the amount of pharmaceuticals shipped to Canada, because arbitrageurs take advantage of the price difference between the two countries.

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
Doyle adds more medications to state prescription drug site
Wisconsin's prescription drug Web site will feature 30 new medications available from Canadian pharmacies, Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday.

The site offers links to order forms from three Canadian pharmacies that sell prescription drugs cheaper than in the United States.

The new drugs include medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, transplant rejection prevention, asthma and breast cancer. Doyle said visitors to the site can order them at savings up to 51 percent.
From the Canadian Press:
GlaxoSmithKline ordered to give Minnesota info on limiting drugs to Canada
A Minnesota district court judge compelled GlaxoSmithKline to turn over documents to the state's attorney general regarding its policy of limiting its sales to Canada.

Attorney General Mike Hatch is investigating whether Glaxo officials conspired with other drug companies when it decided more than a year ago to restrict sales to Canada in order to stop its medicines from being resold in America. In a statement, Glaxo officials said they were disappointed in the decision and expect to appeal.
From the Lansing (Mich.) Business Journal:
Stabenow touts drug import bill
With her metal cane resting on her lap, Rose Wilson sits back and listens to a talk about legislation that promises to make her medication regimen easier and cheaper.

The 80-year-old Howell woman, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery, spends about $160 a month on Fosamax, Vicodin, Lasix and other drugs.

To pay that amount, she packs into a bus with dozens of other seniors and makes an eight-hour round trip to Canada. She could buy the drugs in Michigan, but she'd pay about 40 percent more.

From WISC-TV (WI):
Tommy Thompson Clarifies Position On Canadian Drugs
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says he's not taking a stand on drugs from Canada.

Thompson told News 3 that he is not endorsing importing drugs from Canada. In an exclusive interview with a News 3 crew in Washington, D.C., May 5, Thompson said contrary to other reports, he will not urge the president to sign a bill allowing less expensive drugs from Canada into the United States.

Monday, May 10, 2004

From the National Post:
Ban on Canadian drugs challenged
An Oklahoma company that was shut down for helping Americans buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada asked a federal appeals court Friday to let it resume operations.

Rx Depot Inc. also asked the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments in the case because of the "significant public policy implications" for the elderly and poor.

Support for Canadian Drug Imports Hits Groundswell
A fierce momentum began building this week to legalize the importation of prescription drugs from Canada to the United States, and even those who oppose the move now admit they may not be able to stop it.

The sea change comes in the wake of surprise remarks by the top U.S. health official earlier this week. Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said Tuesday that legislation allowing the importation of prescription drugs was inevitable.

Minnesota might look to Brits for prescription drugs
Minnesota officials might tap British pharmacies through the same type of Web site now helping residents import cheaper drugs from two Canadian mail-order firms.

State Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno says pharmacies in England could be added to the Web site because some drug companies are restricting supplies to the Canadian pharmacies.

Canadian Drugs
Pharmacy customers in Alabama may soon receive a warning about imported medicines when they get their prescriptions filled.

More than 700 Alabama pharmacies are receiving posters and fliers as part of an education campaign launched in Montgomery by American and Canadian pharmacy officials.
From the Las Vegas Business Press:
County still struggles to explain drug imports policy
Clark County seems to be clear on just one point about its policy on the licensing of storefront businesses aiding in the purchase of Canadian pharmaceuticals -- there is no policy.

According to Jacqueline R. Holloway, the director of the Clark County Business Licensing department, declining to license these businesses is "not a policy. It's a process."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

From the Palm Beach (FL) Post:
CVS Chief: Import Prescription Drugs
Breaking with others in his industry, the chief executive of CVS Pharmacy called Wednesday for legalizing imports of prescription drugs. The statement by the nation's largest wholesale purchaser of prescription medicines came a day after the Bush administration's health secretary said legalizing imports appears inevitable.

Support is also growing in Congress, even among Republicans who previously opposed importation but now say constituents are clamoring for relief from soaring prescription prices.

``While many in our industry believe that the importation issue is a fundamentally flawed concept and oppose it without exception, I come with a slightly different view,'' Thomas Ryan, CVS chairman and chief executive officer, told a government task force on drug importation.

From Yahoo News:
CVS Drugstore Chain Backs Drug Imports to U.S.
The No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain on Wednesday proposed a system that would allow Americans to legally and safely purchase cheaper medicines from Canada and other nations through registered suppliers.

CVS Corp., which buys $16 billion worth of drugs and fills 400 million prescriptions each year, told a federal panel investigating importation that CVS supports a safe import system until world prices come into better balance.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Pawlenty prods drug task force
Gov. Tim Pawlenty beckoned an administration task force Wednesday to "light the pathway" toward federally backed reimportation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

But the panel grappled with whether to focus on balancing global drug prices currently skewed sharply against U.S. consumers or creating a new system to ensure imported medicines are safe.

From the Financial Times:
Americans lured by lower prices
While Europeans are debating the dynamism of the US drugs industry, Americans are getting closer to adopting aspects of the European model.

The US already has a small amount of parallel trading in a grey legal area, mostly drugs bought from internet pharmacies based in Canada where drugs are considerably cheaper.

There are two bills before the US Senate, and a third expected soon, that would allow cheap drugs to be imported from Canada.
Alabama News Conference Supported by Canadian Group Accused of Making “Fast Cash on the Side” by Countrymen
That battle over imported drugs heated up today with a press conference in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the city purchasing lower priced imported prescription drugs for its employees. Leading the attack is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), Alabama State Board of Pharmacy (ALBOP) Alabama Pharmacy Association (APA), and a Canadian pharmacy group that has been challenged by the national pharmacy group in their own county.

From WHBF-TV (Ill.):
Canadian Drugs: Are The Savings Worth The Risk?
There are laws against importing prescription drugs but the Food & Drug Administration says they "rarely" go after people bringing small quanitities across the U.S./Canadian border. And now, hundreds of Quad Citians are finding the savings to be well worth the risks.

In February, a group of Quad City senior citizens took a 2-day bus trip to Ontario to save on medication. The trip paid off but now you don't even have to leave the QCA to fill your prescriptions through a Canadian pharmacy.

Is It Worth the Risk?
It's been almost a month since Canada Drug opened for business in Sioux Falls. And while opponents insist businesses like it are illegal, as Jaine Andrews shows us in this evening's HealthBeat, there's been no effort to shut them down. That doesn't mean state and federal officials aren't considering it. In fact, a closed door meeting was held today in Pierre between the Attorney General's office and the state Board of Pharmacy on just that issue.
From the Canadian Press:
Former mayor in Massachusetts links his website to Canadian drug supplier
Former Springfield mayor Michael Albano, whose city was among the first municipalities to turn to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs, has added a link to a Canadian provider to his personal website.

Albano said he decided to add the link after getting hundreds of inquiries from people squeezed by high prescription drug prices and looking for a place to buy medications from Canada.
From the Boston Globe:
Thompson shifts on drug imports
Adding election-year momentum to an issue that is popular among seniors, President Bush's chief healthcare official, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, said he would recommend that Bush not stand in the way of a bill to make importing prescription drugs legal.

"I think it's coming," Thompson said at a news conference about new Medicare discount cards. "I think Congress is going to pass it."

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Thompson says drug imports 'coming'
A senior Bush administration official for the first time said Tuesday that legalizing prescription drug imports was inevitable and would save consumers money.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, whose agency has led the opposition to imported drugs, also said he would advise President Bush not to stand in the way of legislation to make it legal for drugs to be imported from abroad.

"I think it's coming," Thompson said at a news conference devoted mainly to the new Medicare discount drug cards. "I think Congress is going to pass it."
From WHBF-TV (Ill.):
Saving Money on Canadian Drugs...In Moline?
Federal law prohibit bringing prescription drugs across the U.S./Canadian border. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is pushing to legalize the importation of medications but, in the meantime, many Americans aren't letting the law stop them from seeking savings 'up north'.

Drugs prices in the United States have gotten so high that many people will do just about anything to find a cheaper alternative. This February, some Quad City seniors took a two-day bus trip to Canada to buy medication

More Canada Drug Business
One year ago, Watertown business man, Paul Fox, opened the doors of Dakota/Canadian Discount Medical and started accessing cheaper prescription prices from north of the border. But just days later, Fox voluntarily closed those doors, bowing to pressure from the South Dakota Board of Pharmacy.

Tonight the business is back open tonight, along with a second location in Sioux Falls. What gave Fox and his nephew, Paul, the courage to re-open their doors was the opening of a similar business in Sioux Falls.
Manitoba E-pharmacy founder fights to clear name
One of the Manitoba founders of the billion-dollar Internet pharmacy industry is fighting in court to clear his name after landing in hot water with the province's pharmaceutical regulatory body.

Andrew Strempler, whose online pharmacy RxNorth is based in Minnedosa, Man., has filed an application in Court of Queen's Bench to quash a decision by the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association that the pharmacist was, according to the application,"guilty of unskilled practice of pharmacy and professional misconduct."

From the Orlando Sentinel:
Debate rages for Canadian medicine
For more than two years, Jean and Lee Edes have saved hundreds of dollars by ordering their prescription drugs from Canada.

But when they called their Canadian pharmacy recently to check on an order, the Mount Dora couple learned the pills had been seized at the U.S. border.

They ended up paying for the medications twice: $276 for the Canadian package that was shipped but never arrived -- and almost two times that amount to fill the prescriptions locally for drugs to treat osteoporosis, high cholesterol and a thyroid condition.

Monday, May 03, 2004

From the Daily Mississippian:
Drugs may be imported
A pharmaceutical expert who is against prescription medicine importation told a room full of future pharmacists he believes that practice will be legal before the end of the year.

Ole Miss Alumnus Robert Freeman said he thinks pressure on politicians caused by an electorate frustrated by high costs for prescription drugs will cause Congress, the Senate and President George Bush to sign a bill making drug importation from Canada legal.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

From the Wilmington (NC) Star:
Drug assistance centers extend program to London pharmacy
A company that helps Americans order medication from Canada is teaming up with a British pharmacy to fill backordered prescriptions.

American Drug Club, which has franchises in New Hampshire, North Carolina and 10 other states, provides price information to customers and helps them order drugs from Canadian pharmacies. The company lists North Carolina franchises Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Greensboro, Hickory, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Winston Salem. No addresses are listed and customers are asked to call the same long-distance telephone number for information.

On Monday, American Drug Club will start a new system to allow an undisclosed pharmacy in London to fill prescriptions if a medication isn't immediately available in Canada.

From the Globe and Mail:
Americans petition Senate for cheaper drugs
Elinor Shoaf has felt the pain of the Internet pharmacy industry's heightened struggle to stock the cheap drugs she and a-million other Americans have come to depend on.

Specifically, the 74-year-old from Wheeling, W.Va., felt it in her elbows, back and knees — the effects of not taking her arthritis medication for several weeks while she awaited a refill from Canada that has yet to arrive.

From the Canadian Press:
U.S. medicare Web site posts drug price comparisons for new discount card
U.S. President George W. Bush's administration is predicting that new discount drug cards will save Medicare recipients money, but critics have other advice for seniors: Go to Canada.

Prices offered by the cards are higher than those charged by Canadian pharmacies that state and local governments are beginning to link up with on behalf of their employees, retirees and residents.

From the Pawtucket (RI) Times:
Senate OKs motion to license Canadian pharmacies in R.I.
The Senate on Thursday joined the House of Representatives in giving the OK for Canadian pharmacies to be licensed in Rhode Island.

The result, backers of the bill say, will be that Rhode Islanders will soon be able to take advantage of the lower prices for prescription drugs offered by our neighbors to the north.