Sunday, October 31, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 30, 2004

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 28, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden appeared with Gov. Rod Blagojevich at a news conference Thursday in Chicago to announce Missouri's participation in the I-SaveRx drug program. Illinois and Wisconsin launched it this month to offer savings on about 100 medications of up to 50 percent off U.S. retail prices.
From the Olympian (Wash.):
State opens Canada drug site
Washington state launched a Web site Tuesday that will help residents buy prescription drugs from approved Canadian pharmacies.

The site,, will help seniors and others struggling to pay for increasingly expensive drugs, Gov. Gary Locke said, acknowledging that he is defying the Bush administration's stance against importing low-cost medications.
From the Boston Globe:
Business brisk as Americans stream to Canada for flu shots
Americans are streaming into Canada -- in some cases by the boatload -- in search of flu vaccine.

With a US shortage caused by contaminated vaccine and flu season approaching, business has been brisk at Canadian clinics and doctors' offices along the border from British Columbia to as far east as New Brunswick.

A Canadian Internet pharmacy is working with a half-dozen physicians in Montreal to offer weekend flu-shot tours to New Yorkers. The price is $75 for a medical exam and inoculation. Lodging and meals, which can be arranged by a travel agency working with the pharmacy, are extra.
From theGlobe and Mail:
Discredited HRT drugs marketed in new versions
Now that the touted health benefits of hormone-replacement therapy for postmenopausal women have been largely discredited, pharmaceutical companies are promoting low-dose versions of the same drugs, according to a new study.

They are doing so despite the fact that there has been no research showing low-dose HRT is any safer, said Dr. Sumit Majumdar, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta's division of internal medicine.
From the Anchorage Daily News :
Rx Canada
When Angie Long orders her medication, it often comes from a faraway pharmacy in Canada, not from a local one in Juneau.

For the past two years, 85-year-old Long has been turning to Canada to buy five drugs she needs daily. She decided to send her prescriptions to Canada for one reason: She couldn't beat the price.

Long and her 88-year-old husband don't work anymore and depend on income from Social Security, a small retirement benefit for her husband and some savings. Buying drugs from Canada may not be for everyone, she said, but it helps cut costs when you're older and need to take multiple medications. Long needs drugs to combat high blood pressure, cholesterol and spine problems that remain after several back surgeries.
From CBC North :
Drug tracking not in cards, says Yukon minister
The Yukon's health minister says there's no plan that he's aware of to improve the tracking of prescription drugs in the territory.

Peter Jenkins says he did ask his staff to look into the issue about a year ago, but doesn't recall what came of that request.

Two weeks ago the president of the Yukon Medical Association said he'd like to see the government consider a better computer monitoring system, so pharmacists and doctors can identify people shopping around for drugs.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

From the South Bend (IN) Tribune:
Pfizer exec: Canadian drug imports safe
The regulated reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada would pose no safety risk to American consumers, according to a pharmaceutical company executive who stumped here Monday for Gov. Joe Kernan.

The executive, Peter Rost, said reimportation is common and safe in Europe, where northern European countries buy cheaper prescription drugs from southern European countries. And he said concerns about counterfeit or unregulated drugs are no reason to ban reimportation, but to legalize and regulate it.

"That is exactly the reason we need regulated reimportation," said Rost, a physician and marketing executive at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The company makes Lipitor and Viagra, among other drugs.

Monday, October 25, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Was big pharma caught in its own web of spin?
If it weren't for a quirk of telephone etiquette, the results of an investigation into Canada's Internet pharmacy industry might have produced some straightforward headlines such as, Internet Drugstores Vulnerable To Terrorism, Study Says.

But the story got a little more complicated on Friday afternoon when the news accidentally leaked to the industry association for Internet pharmacies.

David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, dialled into a conference call that afternoon, expecting to hear a briefing about a forum he plans to attend this week in Montreal.
From the Halifax Daily News:
Cdn doctors urged to get legal protection if giving cross-border flu shots
The organization that insures Canadian doctors is urging them to arm themselves legally if they are giving flu shots to Americans crossing the border because of vaccine shortages in the United States.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association says it has no problem with the practice, so long as doctors are getting U.S. patients to sign waivers stating that in the event they decide to take legal action, they'll do it in Canadian courts.
Internet pharmacy group upset at suggestion industry vulnerable to terrorists
A spokesman for the online pharmacy industry said Monday he has caught his opponents "cooking a plot" to portray the operations as vulnerable to being overtaken or hijacked by terrorists.

David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, said a conference call last week to plan part of a cross-border policy forum in Montreal on Wednesday has led him to believe critics are using terrorism as their latest scare tactic.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The Rx chase: Cheaper drugs via the Bahamas
On an island used by bootleggers in the 1920s and speedboat-running cocaine cowboys in the 1980s, a drab warehouse now conducts a new kind of enterprise American authorities consider illegal - selling prescription drugs.

The warehouse near the Freeport airport is run by a Canadian pharmacy, CanadaRX. It buys prescription drugs from wholesalers in Europe and elsewhere. It sells them to Americans at prices 30% to 50% lower than U.S. prices.

Harvey Organ, co-owner of CanadaRX, says he was forced to set up the Freeport operation because the major American drug manufacturers, led by Pfizer, have reduced shipments to Canada to block pharmacies from selling drugs to U.S. citizens.

From the Winnipeg Sun:
Internet physician makes mouse calls
The Internet has revolutionized pharmaceutical services, dismantling borders well before countries were ready. Now a Winnipeg Internet pharmacy magnate is ready to do the same with medical diagnoses.

Daren Jorgenson has a 20-member information technology team based in India creating new health-care software. He says it will combine patient histories with medical expertise to create an online dialogue and eventually create paperless physicians' offices.
From the Portsmouth (NH) Herald:
Governor's link a Rx for disaster?
Retired pharmacist Merton Dyer wouldn’t buy his prescriptions from Canadian mail-order company K-Tel Drug.

This is in spite of the fact Dyer personally inspected K-Tel’s Manitoba operations at the request of Gov. Craig Benson before co-authoring a report endorsing K-Tel as safe for New Hampshire residents.

Still, Dyer told the Herald this past week he was "not comfortable with" several aspects of K-Tel’s pharmaceutical business - enough so to keep him from ever becoming a customer.
From the Winnipeg Sun:
'Monkey could make money'
It is the economic engine that drives Daren Jorgenson's dreams. The University of Manitoba pharmacy grad has made millions from his Winnipeg-based Internet pharmacy. But to hear him tell it a simian could have done the same.

"I don't think we're these crazy, super-smart entrepreneurs. I think we got into an industry at the beginning that anybody would do well at, because the demand in the U.S. was so large and the number of people doing it here ... was so few. A monkey could make money."
From the Boston Globe:
Pharmacies in Canada zero in on US Latinos
Having built a $1 billion market in illegal, cross-border prescriptions by focusing on American seniors without drug coverage, Canadian Internet pharmacies are setting their sights on minority populations in the United States, especially Latinos, to drive a fresh wave of sales.

More pharmacies are offering Spanish-language versions of their websites. They are advertising in local ethnic newspapers and on radio. And they are looking to forge ties with local community leaders.
Frome the Washington Times:
U.S. citizens flock to Canada for flu shots
Mary Buffamonti called her doctor in Tonawanda, N.Y., this week and found out that she couldn't get a flu shot.

So she crossed the Canadian border and went to a clinic in Fort Erie, Ontario, just across the Niagara River from Buffalo, N.Y.

'That was the main thing, the shortage. I didn't know if I could get a shot or not," the 77-year-old Mrs. Buffamonti said. Americans are traveling to Canada for an injection of flu vaccine and a shot at some peace of mind.
From the Seattle Times:
Plenty of flu shots available in Canada
Several clinics in the Vancouver, B.C., area are offering flu shots to Americans, and their phones are ringing off the hooks with potential customers.

"We're definitely welcoming Americans," said Lynn Crosby, an office assistant at the International Travel Health and Vaccination Clinic in Surrey, B.C., about 10 minutes from the border. "We had someone here today from South Carolina, and a woman from New York is flying in tomorrow."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

From the Toronto Star:
Online drug wars
The big, brand-name drug companies have finally thrown down the gauntlet. If Ottawa doesn't curb Internet pharmacy sales to the United States, the multinational firms won't ship enough prescription drugs into this country to serve Canadians.

"Canadian prescription drug supplies are generated to meet Canadian patient demand," Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, the trade association for brand-name firms, announced this week. "Their diversion to U.S. citizens means they are not available to Canadians.
From Bloomberg:
Canadian Drugs, Banned by FDA, Are Safe as Those Sold in U.S.
Prescription medicines from Canada, banned from the U.S., are at least as safe as those sold by American drugstores, according to a Harvard University professor, state regulators and Canadian authorities.

Inspections and anti-counterfeiting measures in Canada and other industrialized countries are just as effective as U.S. systems, said Jerry Avorn, a Harvard Medical School drug safety specialist. Carmen Catizone, president of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a state regulators' group, rates U.S. and Canadian drugs as equally safe.
From the Vancouver Sun:
Special flu shot clinic set up in Vancouver this weekend for Americans
So many Americans are cross-border shopping for flu shots that the Vancouver health authority has set up a one-day clinic for Americans only.

Americans are flooding into clinics along the U.S.-B.C. border -- including one at the Vancouver International Airport -- looking for the shots that have become increasingly scarce in the U.S.

And while Canadian officials have repeatedly said the U.S. demand will not be allowed to impact Canadian supplies, the owner of two B.C. clinics urged Canadians -- especially those who are not considered at high risk of getting the flu -- not to delay getting their shots if they want one.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
Pharmacists sue over import of Canadian drugs
Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. is being sued by five local pharmacists who say he is breaking the law by helping city employees and residents purchase imported Canadian drugs at steep discounts.

The pharmacists are expected to appear this afternoon in Taunton Superior Court and request a judicial order that would put a freeze on the city's new prescription drug program.

Lambert's program encourages residents to buy drugs through CanaRX at discounts of as much as 50 percent. On Monday, the city also started letting municipal employees and retired employees purchase the less expensive drugs through CanaRX without paying any deductible.
From the Woonsocket (RI) Call:
Board votes against drug imports
By a unanimous voice vote, the Board of Pharmacy rejected proposed changes in regulations that would implement the new law allowing Rhode Island to license Canadian pharmacies for the reimportation of prescription drugs.

The matter now goes to the desk of Department of Health Director Patricia Nolan.

Board of Pharmacy Chairwoman Susan Delmonico rejected the notion -- put forward by Richard Bidwell of the Gray Panthers -- that the board members had a conflict of interest in voting on an issue that could restrict competition for Rhode Island pharmacies. All but two board members are appointed under rules requiring them to be pharmacists.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
State pharmacy board rejects rules for Canadian drug imports
A law that would make Rhode Island the first state in the nation to license Canadian pharmacies hit an expected bump in the road yesterday, when a state board rejected regulations to implement it.

But the new law appears likely to roll toward its January enactment anyway, as Rhode Island continues down its unique path in coping with a nationwide dilemma.

Responding to citizens' demands for lower-cost drugs from Canada, Illinois and Wisconsin are sponsoring efforts to help residents get Canadian drugs, and municipalities around the country are obtaining Canadian drugs for their employees.
From the Orlando Sentinel:
FDA examines illicit flu shots
The head of the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that he expects his agency to learn within days how a shipment of unlicensed Canadian flu vaccines reached Central Florida.

Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford also hinted that Canadian vaccines might gain U.S. approval and be used to help offset the national shortage of flu shots. A Winter Park pharmacy received some of the doses.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Canada hangs on to its flu shots
With busloads of seniors routinely heading north to buy prescription drugs in Canada, it's hardly a surprise that Americans now are looking across the border for flu vaccine, too.

But with the exception of a few welcoming clinics, including one in remote Estevan, Saskatchewan, that advertised its willingness to provide U.S. citizens in neighboring North Dakota with flu shots, the Canadian option appears dicey.

For starters, what's available in Canada would cover only a small fraction of the shortage in the United States, where supplies were reduced by half because of contamination, health officials say. And there is some reluctance among Canadians to send anything but verbal shots south.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

From Health Canada:
Association of EPREX (epoetin alfa) with thrombotic vascular events -Janssen-Ortho Inc.
Results of recent investigational studies using EPREX and other erythropoietin products have indicated an increased risk of blood clot formation in patients with cancer who were treated to raise their red blood cells to a level higher than the typical target in this population. In some cases, these blood clots were fatal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Flu vaccine Q&A
Why does the U.S. have a shortage of influenza vaccine?On Oct. 5, British regulators suspended the licence of vaccine maker Chiron, which operates a plant in Liverpool, after it was discovered that some of the flu vaccine it produced was contaminated with bacteria.

The United States was depending on Chiron for 48 million doses of flu vaccine -- half the country's supply -- but production was scrapped.
From the Toronto Star:
Drug-export ban urged
Canadians will find prescription drugs more expensive — if they can find them at all — unless the federal government stops Internet pharmacies from catering to Americans, a health coalition warns.

Several groups representing pharmacists, patients and seniors called on the federal government yesterday to ban fast-growing exports of Canadian prescription drugs before it's too late.
From the (Augusta, Maine) Morning Sentinel:
Mainers seeking flu vaccine in Canada
Mainers unable to find flu shots at home because of a massive shortage this year are looking to Canada for the vaccine, but it's unclear how many will be successful in their quest.

The United States is short nearly half its anticipated supply this year because the license of Chiron Corp., one of two manufacturers for the country's vaccine, was pulled this month. As residents face restrictions on who can get the shot, resulting in long lines at some clinics and the cancellation of others, some are hoping they can obtain the shot by crossing the border.
Special flu-shot clinic set up in Vancouver Oct. 30 for Americans
So many Americans are cross-border shopping for flu shots that the Vancouver health authority has set up a one-day clinic for Americans only.

Americans are flooding into clinics along the U.S.-B.C. border - including one at the Vancouver International Airport - looking for the shots that have become increasingly scarce in the U.S.

From the Seattle Times:
Canada's reaction mixed to sharing its flu vaccine
"There is massive hypocrisy on the part of the Bush administration," said Jillian Claire Cohen, an assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Toronto. "They are very hesitant to allow cheaper, safe drugs from Canada, but when it serves their purposes, all of a sudden they turn to Canada."
From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Canada a possible flu shot option for some Americans
Margaret Holmen's only opportunity for a flu shot this year might be 75 miles across the Canadian border. Dozens of others already have made the trek north.

With a shortage of vaccine shutting down flu shot clinics around North Dakota, Holmen and others who visit the Powers Lake Senior Citizens Center have been talking about traveling to Estevan, Saskatchewan. A pharmacy there is inviting U.S. residents to come and get poked, and it gave shots to about 80 Americans in 1 1/2 hours Tuesday.

"Everybody here is thinking about it," said Holmen, the senior center's manager. "We hear on the news that we should be patient, but we don't know what to do."
From the Washington Times:
Drug dearth a fear in Canada
Canadians are increasingly worried they will run out of medicines as more American consumers and local governments look across the northern border for cheaper prescription drugs.

One Canadian pharmacy group has said it will stop bulk prescription drug sales to U.S. states and municipalities, and a coalition of patients and pharmacy groups this week asked their government to ban prescription drug exports.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

From the Tuscon (AZ) Citizen:
FDA looks to Canadian drug-maker for flu vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration is in "active negotiations" with a Canadian manufacturer to obtain an extra 1.5 million doses of flu vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.

On whether the vaccine from ID Biomedical would make it to American consumers this flu season, Fauci said, "It's possible."

Health Canada said it was first contacted by the Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 12, a week after the British government barred Chiron Corp. from shipping 48 million doses of flu vaccine.
From the Globe and Mail:
Ottawa prepares to help U.S. on flu shots
Canada is willing to ship millions of flu shots south of the border to ease panic in the United States over a vaccine shortage, but health officials warn that the process might take months and would fill only a tiny fraction of the U.S. demand.

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh publicly extended the offer yesterday, although he cautioned that the assistance would depend on whether Canada has enough surplus vaccine.
From the San Mateo County (Calif.) Times:
Americans not using online pharmacies
Only 4 percent of Americans have ever used the Internet to buy prescription drugs -- and even fewer do so through foreign pharmacies -- despite Web sites maintained by a handful of states to help citizens import medicines more cheaply from Canada, a new study finds.

A majority -- 62 percent -- believe drugs bought online are less safe than those purchased from a local pharmacy, accepting the federal government's stated concerns in opposing drug imports, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said in a report Sunday.
From Capital News 9 (NY):
Some New Yorkers crossing the border for flu shots
The flu vaccine may be in short supply in the US, but it's a different story in Canada. And some people in northern New York are heading north of the border to get their shots.

Pharmacists in the Fort Erie, Ontario, area across the border from Buffalo, said they have been inundated with calls from Americans asking about flu shots.
U.S. seniors ride 'Rx Express' to Toronto to buy lower-cost prescriptions
More than two dozen U.S. seniors and patients rolled into Toronto Wednesday night aboard the "Rx Express," a chartered train on a whistle-stop tour to buy lower-cost Canadian prescription drugs.

The tourists will visit an unnamed Toronto pharmacy on Thursday to make their purchases. Their campaign, however, risks going off the rails because it is illegal for Americans to reimport Canadian drugs into the United States.
From Reuters:
Canada Urged to Halt Internet Drug Sales to U.S.
The Canadian government must stop the online sale of drugs to U.S. customers before it leads to a severe shortage north of the border, a coalition of health lobby groups said on Monday.

With many drugs meant for Canadians being sold to U.S. citizens, who are looking north of the border for a source of lower-priced medicines, many large pharmaceutical companies have cut back their shipments to Canada, leaving many Canadians without much-needed drugs, they said.

"Cross-border Internet pharmacies are not the solution, short or long term, to the problem of high drug costs in the United States," Louise Binder, chairwoman of the Canadian Treatment Action Council, a Toronto-based health-policy group, told reporters in Toronto.
From the Washington Times:
Canada reins in Internet drug sales
A growing number of Canadian online pharmacies are no longer willing to accept bulk orders from U.S. states and municipalities, the Financial Times said Monday.

Concern in Canada that growing exports could lead to rising prices and shortages north of the border has prompted the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, whose members include several of the biggest Internet and mail-order drugstores, to act.
From the Toronto Star:
National drug strategy urged
While acknowledging that a national pharmacare plan is still years away, Canada's health ministers insist lower prescription drug costs are coming sooner.

The ministers capped their three-day meeting here yesterday by announcing the creation of a task force to develop and implement a national pharmaceuticals strategy to look at such things as bulk purchasing, faster approval of new breakthrough medicines and catastrophic drug coverage.
From the Canadian Press:
Cross-border prescriptions threaten Canadian supply, health groups warn
Cross-border Internet pharmacies threaten to drain precious supplies needed to treat sick Canadians and could lead to a "full-scale disaster" for the health system, a coalition of groups representing seniors, pharmacies and patients warned Monday.

Groups claiming to represent 10 million Canadians called on Ottawa to ban the export of prescription drugs, arguing that Canada cannot afford to address U.S. drug shortages and soaring prescription costs with its own stock.
From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Canadian pharmacist inviting North Dakotans for flu shots
A pharmacist in Estevan, Saskatchewan, is inviting North Dakota residents to come north for a flu shot.

The United States is in the midst of a vaccine shortage, after a major supplier was barred from shipping its vaccine because of contamination problems.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Tips for buying prescription drugs in Canada
John Kerry was only half right when he told Americans during Wednesday night's debate that President Bush is blocking their right to buy less expensive drugs from Canada.

An estimated 2 million Americans buy their prescription drugs from Canada, according to Consumers Union. The practice is illegal and the Bush administration has blocked bipartisan legislation to allow imports.

But the government is not prosecuting small-time buyers. Nor has it interfered with states such as Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin that have set up drug-buying programs from Canadian pharmacies for their residents.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
Doctor reprimanded for helping U.S. patient get Canadian drugs
Ontario's medical regulator officially reprimanded a doctor yesterday for taking part in the cross-border pharmacy business, but the watchdog faces a looming battle over whether it should even prosecute such physicians.

Dr. Peter Stewart Katz, a Hamilton native who now practises in Florida, was reprimanded after pleading guilty to professional misconduct for co-signing numerous prescriptions from U.S. patients he had never seen.
From the Canadian Press:
U.S. drug consumers no threat to Cdn. supply: federal health minister
Ottawa will not speed the creation of a national pharmacare program to deal with the growing flood of Americans who come to Canada to buy up supplies of cheaper prescription drugs.

Provincial health ministers have been calling on Ottawa to organize a unified response, but while meeting with them in Vancouver on Saturday, federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said consumers south of the border are no threat.
U.S. won't likely seek Canadian flu vaccine
It's looking less likely that the United States will be turning to Canada to help ease the shortage of flu vaccine, despite comments earlier this week by U.S. President George Bush.

Canada's supply of flu vaccine has been recently thrust into the international spotlight, after pharmaceutical company Chiron Corp. announced it wouldn't be able to deliver on a U.S. order for 48 million doses.

The order couldn't be delivered, the company said, because British regulatory authorities suspended the operating licence of the Liverpool plant where the vaccine was made. Contamination problems were cited as the reason.

Monday, October 18, 2004

From the Globe and Mail:
Canada shuts out vaccine seekers
Ontario and Alberta are cracking down on the growing number of Americans who are scrambling to get flu shots in Canada as the anxiety over a shortage of vaccine in the United States spreads north of the border.

With half of the U.S. supply choked off by quality-control problems, clinics such as the border outpost of the Northwestern Health Unit in Fort Frances, Ont., have been getting a steady steam of calls from worried Americans.

"There was even somebody from Florida wanting to purchase a dose," said Cindy McKinnon, the clinic's vaccine specialist.
From the Calgary Herald:
Pharmacy rules a hot topic at health care conference
The Alberta government is being asked to review the rules surrounding how pharmaceutical drugs are dispensed and who dispenses them.

The association that represents pharmacy technicians says those rules are too lax.

Diane Reeder, president of the Alberta branch of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians, says currently, anyone can call themselves a technician or assistant.
From the Fort Worth (TX) Star Telegram:
A Drug Trek to Canada
A 68-year-old Pennsylvania woman said Thursday that she happily took a 600-mile train ride to Toronto to buy medicine that would save her thousands of dollars compared with prices in the United States.

June Marie Preston and her 67-year-old sister, Marion Hicks, live together in Douglassville outside of Philadelphia and traveled by train with 21 other Americans seeking to stock up on cheaper Canadian drugs.

"I hope to realize 50 percent savings," Preston said, noting that her asthma medications cost $556 a month.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

From CBC North:
Prescription stats prompt call for drug-tracking plan
Documents obtained by CBC Radio show there's been a big increase in the number of claims for pain-killing drugs for First Nations people in the Yukon.

Health Canada statistics show a 25 per cent increase in the number of payments Ottawa made for prescription drugs under its non-insured health benefits program. That's the program that funds a variety of medical expenses for aboriginal and Inuit Canadians.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

From the (Nashville) Tennessean:
Go-betweens smooth path of Canadian prescription drugs
Noelie Crosslin used to pay up to $700 a month for her medications. Now, she pays that much for a three-month supply.

Crosslin, 70, of Sparta, gets her discount by ordering prescription drugs from a pharmacy in Canada. And as far as she can tell, the medicines are no different from what she used to get from her local drugstore.

''When I asked my doctor about it, he had no problem whatsoever with it. They are very aware of drug costs,'' said Crosslin, who takes an anti-depressant, a pill to control her blood pressure and other drugs for bronchial problems.
From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
More than 11,000 request forms for new drug import program
More than 11,000 people have requested forms to enroll in Illinois and Wisconsin's new drug importation program, a system that gives residents access to cheaper prescription drugs from Europe and Canada despite a federal ban on the imports.

The two states launched the I-SaveRx program Oct. 4, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been promoting it across Illinois.

During its first six days, the program's toll-free hot line received 2,892 calls, and the call center mailed out more than 1,000 enrollment forms, Blagojevich said Tuesday. He said enrollment forms had been downloaded from the I-SaveRx Web site 10,141 times.
From the San Jose Mercury News:
Seniors Head to Canada for Cheaper Drugs
With a button pinned to her jacket that read "Drug Companies Make Me Sick," Mildred Fruhling, 76, joined a small caravan headed to Canada by train to buy cheaper prescription drugs.

The drugs she and her husband need are available at home in Edison, N.J., at a cost of about $7,000 a year. In Canada, where she's going with more than 20 other senior citizens, she'll buy a three-month supply for about half the U.S. price.
From Yahoo News:
Despite U.S. Ban, Drug Import Programs Proliferate
A new joint program in Illinois and Wisconsin to help residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and Europe is the latest challenge to the United States' ban on drug importation.

A growing number of states and municipalities are openly defying the federal law. Minnesota, the first state to facilitate cross-boarder drug imports, launched a Web site in January providing residents with information on how to buy drugs from Canada. Since then, North Dakota and New Hampshire have joined the fray, while nearly a dozen other states have proposed import.

Monday, October 11, 2004

From The Globe and Mail:
MDs face disciplinary action for Web prescriptions
Some hover over their basement computers, co-signing prescriptions into the wee hours for American patients they have never seen. But what may seem like quick money in the booming Internet pharmacy business is becoming a fast ticket to discipline for some of Canada's doctors.

Four physicians, including an 80-year-old ear, nose and throat specialist from the Central Ontario town of Windermere, are facing disciplinary hearings for allegedly co-signing prescriptions for U.S. patients who receive the low-cost drugs in their mailboxes.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

From the Toronto Star:
Canadian drug safety no concern: U.S. seniors
Two dozen American seniors from Maine about to set out for a drug-buying bus trip to Canada don't care that U.S. President George W. Bush is concerned the drugs might "kill" them.

"I take five different prescription drugs, one made somewhere outside Toronto," said John Carr, 66, president of the Maine Council of Seniors. "They haven't killed me yet."
From the Globe and Mail:
Few Americans buying drugs on-line
Only 4 per cent of Americans have ever used the Internet to buy prescription drugs — and even fewer do so through foreign pharmacies — despite websites maintained by a handful of states to help Americans import medicines more cheaply from Canada, a new study finds.

A majority — 62 per cent — believe drugs bought on-line are less safe than those purchased from a local pharmacy, accepting the federal government's stated concerns in opposing drug imports, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said in a report Sunday.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

From CBC Calgary:
Safeway's offer of cheap flu shots questioned
The Alberta College of Pharmacists is concerned about a grocery chain's offer of half-price flu shots for regular customers.

Safeway is offering the discounted shots at its pharmacies for customers who have the store's club card.

Karen Barney, president-elect of the Alberta College of Pharmacists, says prescriptions aren't a commodity and shouldn't be sold under special offer.
From the St. Petersburg (FL) Times:
Global drug shuffle may backfire
Lou Angelo, a 69-year-old retired auto mechanic in Brooksville, doesn't consider himself a political activist. But as one of millions of Americans who buy prescriptions from Canada, saving about $100 a month on blood pressure medicine and beta blockers, he is part of a groundswell of pressure for lower drug prices here in the United States.

This week, Wisconsin and Illinois raised the political ante by saying they have created an easy and safe way for their residents to tap into inexpensive drug imports from Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as Canada.
From the Globe and Mail:
Internet pharmacy doctor under fire at hearing
A Toronto doctor accused of co-signing thousands of prescriptions for an Internet pharmacy without seeing patients changed his story several times under heated cross-examination at his disciplinary hearing yesterday.

Stanley Gore, 56, told the hearing before the Ontario College of Physician and Surgeons that high blood pressure and stress are causing him to forget details of his job and possibly misstate evidence. "I'm honestly getting confused and I'm terrified of it," he told the hearing.
From the Canadian Press:
Ontario class-action lawsuit by users of arthritis drug Vioxx joins others
A Toronto-based law firm filed another class-action lawsuit Friday against drug maker Merck and Co. Inc., the makers of the arthritis drug Vioxx.

The lawsuit is the fifth to be filed in Canada since the drug was withdrawn by Merck on Sept. 30. after studies found it may increase heart attack and stroke risk. Other class actions have been filed in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. None of the suits has yet been certified by a judge, which must happen before they can proceed.
From CBC Manitoba:
Democratic win in U.S. could kill web pharmacies
A campaign promise by American vice-presidential candidate John Edwards has Manitoba's online pharmaceutical industry sweating.

Millions of Americans already buy prescription drugs online through Canadian-based pharmacies, but the Federal Drug Administration south of the border frowns on the practice, maintaining there's no guarantee Canadian drugs are safe.
From AARP:
States Defy FDA on Drug Importation
Weighing in where millions of ordinary Americans have already dared to tread, a growing number of states and cities are defying federal law and the power of the pharmaceutical industry to help people buy prescription drugs from abroad. In some cases they’re even filing lawsuits against those who try to stop them.

These smaller governments are in effect giving Washington an ultimatum: Allow Americans to buy lower-cost medications from Canada and other countries, or bring down drug prices at home. They’re also strongly challenging the position—long held by the White House, the Food and Drug Administration and the drug companies—that buying medications from licensed pharmacies abroad is not safe.
From the Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette:
Blagojevich visits Savoy to tout prescription program
Mary Jane Gillespie of Savoy told Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Thursday she's a step ahead of his new state drug purchase plan, buying her medications from Canada as she struggles to pay enormous bills for arthritis drugs.

The governor visited with senior citizens at The Windsor of Savoy on Thursday afternoon, wrapping up a three-day, statewide tour to promote his new prescription drug importation program, I-Save Rx.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

From the Canadian Press:
Scientists question whether Vioxx problem affects entire class of drugs
In the wake of last week's surprise market withdrawal of wonder drug Vioxx, scientists Wednesday questioned the safety of the entire class of arthritis drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors.

In commentaries rushed to print online by the New England Journal of Medicine, experts suggested the increased risk of heart attack and stroke that prompted Vioxx's withdrawal may also be true across the entire class of the wildly successful drugs.
From the Quad-City (IL) Times:
Blagojevich pitches RX for high drug costs
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is making a barnstorming, campaign-style tour with one highly charged issue and it’s not even an election year for him.

Blagojevich was at Friendship Manor in Rock Island on Wednesday to explain I-SaveRX, a joint effort of Illinois and Wisconsin launched this week. The plan will allow citizens of the two states to purchase prescription drugs from outside the United States at savings of up to 50 percent.

Many Americans already are taking advantage of less expensive prescription drugs by ordering from pharmacies outside the United States, but Blagojevich and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle are the first to take importation a step further by supporting the practice through their state governments.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

From the Spartanburg (ME) Herald-Journal:
Maine and One of Its Tribes Look to Buy Canadian Drugs
Maine yesterday became the latest state to try to find a way to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, but the state added a twist with a proposal that would allow an American Indian tribe to sell the imported drugs.

Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, said at a news conference that he was asking the federal government for permission to import prescription drugs from Canada, which several other states are also seeking. Federal officials have refused to authorize such programs, saying there is no way to guarantee the safety and efficacy of imported drugs.
From The Globe and Mail:
Death of a Wonder Drug
It was nicknamed a "super Aspirin" when it hit the market five years ago, billed as an early blockbuster of the biotech era, a remarkably safe anti-inflammatory drug and painkiller bound to be a hit with aging baby boomers.

Merck & Co. Inc. first developed Vioxx as a new class of arthritis medication. But it quickly landed in medicine cabinets as a treatment for everything from muscle aches to menstrual cramps, with 3.4 million prescriptions filled in Canada last year, and 84 million people taking it around the world.
From the Chicago Sun Times:
Illinois opens discount pharmacy
Defying the federal government, Illinois and Wisconsin launched a program Monday to help residents buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Residents could save 25 percent to 50 percent by buying from 45 approved foreign suppliers, Gov. Blagojevich said.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Prescription for Battle With Feds
One of the key figures in the debate over importing prescription drugs from Canada is hungry — and he's got his eyes on a platter of pork ribs.

"Gimme some of that hawg," he drawls to an amused waitress at the County Line, a barbecue joint.

If his twang and blue-jeans business attire aren't enough of a clue, Tom Curb is happy to explain what he's all about.
From WEEK-TV (IL):
Prescription Drug Program
Governor Rod Blagojevich's prescription for lower cost medicine is up and running.

The service is called 'I Save R-X and it helps residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from foreign countries.

Low cost prescription drugs are now just a mouse click or phone call away.
From the Providence (RI) Journal:
City plans to fill prescriptions in Canada
The U.S. government may frown, but city employees and everyone else in Fall River can save as much as 50 percent or more on certain prescription drugs from Canada, Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. announced yesterday.

Lambert urged residents to buy medicines through CanaRx, a company that works with Canadian pharmacists to fill prescriptions ordered by doctors in the United States. And starting on Oct. 18, he said, the city will let employees and retired city workers fill prescriptions through CanaRx without paying any deductibles.
From the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News:
Lambert unveils Rx program
Thanks to an agreement between the city and a Canadian company, cheaper prescription drugs will soon be available to Fall River residents and employees.

But the company the city has chosen has been warned about possible violations of federal drug laws by the Food and Drug Administration, an FDA director said Monday, adding that eventually the FDA may take the company to court.
From the Quad-City (IL) Times
Q-C pharmacists: Savings is not the only issue
The Medicine Shoppe franchise was going to be the RX for Richard Moses’ retirement. Monday he was beginning to wonder if the business can survive until he is ready to retire.

Moses, a pharmacist and owner of the Medicine Shoppe in Rock Island, said the announcement that Illinois will sponsor a program to allow the state’s 13 million residents to purchase their prescription drugs from Canada and Europe, could be terrible news for independent pharmacy owners.

“It will probably put some of us out of business,” Moses said. “Many of us will find it difficult to keep our businesses alive. Yes, I’m worried about my business.
From the Kansas City Star:
Missouri stores already linking people with Canadian drugs
Shannon Lindsay sees herself as public servant. People come to her Springfield store struggling to afford medicine, and she helps them out.

For example: One woman faced the tough choice of taking the seven drugs prescribed by her doctor or paying her bills. Lindsay told the woman her prescription drug costs could be cut by more than half - from $1,300 every three months to $568 - by ordering her medications from Canada.

"When I called to tell her about the savings, she was overwhelmed," Lindsay said Tuesday. "It makes you feel good to be able to help people."
From the Canadian Press:
Authenticity of online prescriptions raised at doctor disciplinary hearing
A Toronto doctor accused of co-signing thousands of prescriptions for an online pharmacy without diagnosing patients had no way of verifying if the majority of drug orders he handled were authentic, his disciplinary tribunal heard Wednesday.

On the third day of an Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons hearing for Dr. Stanley Gore, 56, the college's lawyer questioned why the doctor did not do more to verify the prescriptions.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

From the Boston Globe:
Canadian drug vendor wins deals with 2 states
The Canadian pharmacy manager that arranges prescription shipments to Springfield's city employees landed a chunk of new business yesterday, emerging as the sole supplier for a new prescription importation website unveiled by Illinois and Wisconsin.

The pharmacy manager, CanaRx Services Inc., also said that it signed up yet another municipal client: Fall River. In addition to its Massachusetts clients, CanaRx has contracts to provide drugs to city workers in Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vt.
From US News and World Report:
The Senate ties itself in knots over cheaper drugs from Canada
Given the odorously partisan nature of the national political climate, it is something of a stunner to find an issue that can live up to any claim of bipartisan support. But after a long-running battle, a surprising consensus has emerged in Congress around a controversial effort to allow individuals and businesses to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where they are generally cheaper than in the United States.

What other issue can bring liberals like Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton together with conservatives like Trent Lott and contrarians like John McCain? "The reason this is so popular in Congress is that it is so popular in the country," says Barry Piatt, a top aide to Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, who is spearheading the effort to legalize drug importation. A recent survey of Medicare recipients showed 79 percent of them supported changing the rules to allow Americans to buy cheaper drugs in other countries, chiefly Canada.
From the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader:
Good judgment goes a long way
Kentuckians who purchase prescription medications from Canadian pharmacies need not worry about safety, as long as they use good judgment, a University of Kentucky professor said.

"They need to be streetwise," said Donald Perrier, chairman of the Pharmacy Practice and Science Department.

First, he said, consumers should make sure they're dealing with a licensed pharmacy.
From the Canadian Press:
Merck looking for new arthritis drugs to market after demise of Vioxx
The arthritis medication at the centre of one of the biggest drug recalls in history was associated with dozens of heart problems and strokes - at least four of them fatal - during the study that led to its demise.

Vioxx was pulled off pharmacists' shelves around the world on Thursday after its maker, Merck and Co., withdrew its top-selling anti-inflammatory drug from the market due to safety concerns. Researchers conducting the study found an increased risk of cardiovascular problems with patients taking the drug for at least 18 months.
From the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader:
Buying drugs from Canada?
State employees, pharmacists and the general public are responding with strong opinions to a state auditor's report suggesting that Kentucky could save more than $100 million a year by purchasing prescription drugs from Canada.

Employees, facing a proposed increase in their health plan costs, love the idea, said Charles Wells, executive director of the Kentucky Association of State Employees.

"We agree very much," he said. "Here is an opportunity for the state employees and teachers to save money."

But pharmacists see Canadian drug reimportation as a way for them to lose money.

"There is another side to this," said Rosemary Smith, a pharmacist who owns a chain of nine Kentucky drug stores. "We will completely destroy the pharmacy business" by purchasing medicines from Canada rather than local pharmacies.
From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune
Seniors group rethinks tie to Canadian pharmacy
The Minnesota Senior Federation is considering its next move after learning that the owner of a Canadian mail-order pharmacy that contracts with the group violated Ontario's drug -pricing laws.

Peter Wyckoff, the federation's executive director, said the revelation, made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in letters to several members of Congress, "was a complete surprise to us."

In 2002 the federation launched a Web site linking Americans to as a way to save on prescription drug costs. About 6,000 federation members use its drug importation program, and most buy from by phone, fax or the Internet.
From Medical News Today:
Generic drugs not cheap in Canada
Generic prescription drug prices in Canada are 30% higher prices are in eight other industrialized countries, including the United States, according to a Fraser Institute report released in August, the Washington Times reports.

Brett Skinner, the study's lead author, examined data from public studies conducted by FDA and Canada's Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and found that patients in Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, France, New Zealand and Australia also paid less for generic drugs than Canadians.
From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Illinois, Wisconsin launch prescription drug import program
The governors of Illinois and Wisconsin on Monday launched the first state-sponsored program to help residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from both Europe and Canada -- despite federal laws banning prescription drug importation.

The program, called I-SaveRx, works through a Canada-based clearinghouse and claims it can save residents 25 percent to 50 percent off U.S. retail prices on about 100 prescription medications.
From Yahoo News:
Official: Canada Drug Buys Save Ky. Money
Lexington retiree Gerry Adams has been buying her prescription medications from Canada for two years. The move, Adams said, saves her money and her doctor doesn't hesitate to write a prescription knowing it will be filled in Canada.

"It's exactly the same medicine. It's packaged in the same containers. I'm not the least worried about contamination or (the pharmacy) sending me the wrong thing," she said.
From Maine Today:
Mainers going to Canada for dental services
Mainers are going across the Canadian border for more than just lower-priced prescription drugs. They´re also going there to visit the dentist.

Christine Labelle of Skowhegan goes to a dentist in Lac Megantic, Quebec. Other Mainers are going there too, she said, getting dental work done for a fraction of the cost.
From the Kentucky Post:
Canadian drug plan is opposed
Local legislators are not embracing state Auditor Crit Luallen's idea of Kentucky buying prescription drugs in Canada.

Luallen last week released a report suggesting that the state could save nearly $37 million on drugs for state employees and $37 million on drugs for Medicaid patients. State employees could save nearly $34 million they'd normally spend on co-pays, the report said.

But such a move would be illegal, Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park said. In addition, Roeding said it's not safe and Canada doesn't have a big enough supply anyway.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

From the Washington Times:
Maine wants to use Indians to import drugs
Maine's governor says he wants federal permission to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada -- via one of the state's Indian tribes.

Gov. John Baldacci's request is unique in seeking to use an Indian tribe, in this case the Penobscot Indian Nation, as the wholesale distributor of the drugs, the New York Times reported Friday.