Sunday, February 29, 2004

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
PRESCRIPTION DRUG REIMPORTATION: Canadian firm fights exports
Canada's largest drug company stepped up efforts to block exports of prescription drugs to the United States on Thursday, shutting off shipments to two wholesalers who allegedly supplied medicine to pharmacies that sold to Americans.

The move by Pfizer Canada Inc. is the first of its kind by a drug maker. While Pfizer said it was taking the action "to protect the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply system," critics in Canada and the United States said the company was just trying to stop the rising flow of cheap prescription medications across the border.

From the Champlain (NY) Channel:
Sanders Calls FDA Statement 'Outrageous'
Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders is demanding an apology from the federal Food and Drug Administration for what he calls a "smear campaign" against the City of Burlington and Canadian pharmacies.

Sanders is demanding the apology after a top FDA official labeled Canadian drugs "risky" and "substandard" when Burlington revealed a new program to help residents buy pharmaceuticals from Canada -- often for half the price of the same drug in the United States.
From SF Gate:
As druggists mix customized brews, FDA raises alarm
Today, the Food and Drug Administration says "virtually all" compounded products are technically illegal. But since it recognizes that much of what the compounders offer serves a legitimate need, the agency is selective in its enforcement. The FDA generally targets only large-scale compounders who are acting more like manufacturers than corner pharmacies.

(Editor's Note: Although not specifically related to Canadian pharmacy, this article discussing regulation of compounding pharmacies is relevent to pharmacy in general.)
From the Boston Globe:
Seniors looking north for Rx relief
Hoping to save hundreds of dollars on medication, some West Newbury senior citizens are considering looking to Canada.

Last Tuesday, a small group gathered at the 1910 Building in West Newbury to hear a representative from a Canadian pharmaceutical firm speak about whether they would benefit by ordering their prescriptions from Manitoba.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

From the Tennesseean:
Canadian drug imports not in TennCare strategy
State Sen. Larry Trail held up a prescription bottle with a cholesterol-reducing drug brought from Canada and shook it.

''I'm looking at this Lipitor, which probably half the audience is taking,'' he said in the Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

A few laughs could be heard around the room.

''You know you are,'' he half-kidded.

From the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press:
Pharmacists pinched from all sides
Pharmacist Mike Lokensgard feels the financial pinch as more people use the Internet to order drugs from Canada. But he understands why they do, and hopes the effort leads to a reform of American drug policy.

“I don’t think it’s right they have to (turn to Canadian pharmacies),” said Lokensgard, who owns Crystal Drug in Lake Crystal. “But it might start something to improve the situation. It is really shaking things up (in the drug industry) already.”

From the Phoenix Business Journal:
Napolitano avoids Canadian drug import, anti-free-trade pushes
Out-of-control prescription drug prices and the exporting of jobs to China and India have increased calls for the importation of cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals and criticisms of business-backed free trade agreements.

But don't count Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano with many of her Democratic Party cohorts or fellow governors on those two hot-button, election-year issues.
From the Montgomery County (MD) Sentinel:
Perez Calls for Drug Imports From Canada
The legality, safety and cost effectiveness of a proposal to import prescription drugs from Canada for the county's active and retired employees on a voluntary basis was discussed on Monday at a public forum. The forum was hosted by Councilmember Tom Perez.

Since last November, Perez and a task force of benefits managers and union leaders from the county's agencies have been studying the feasibility of this approach, which has already been adopted by several jurisdiction throughout the country.

From the Brattleboro (VT) Reformer:
Sanders optimistic on drug re-importation from Canada
With election-year politics propelling controversial issues to the forefront on Capitol Hill, Rep. Bernard Sanders believes this momentum may open a window for drug re-importation from Canada to become a legal reality.

As many Democrats argue that President Bush is backing a Constitutional amendment in an attempt to appeal to his conservative base, Sanders said a reversal in the president's opposition to drug re-importation would connect with the Middle America he needs to win a second term.

From the Oscala (FL) Star Banner:
U.S. to Study Importing Canada Drugs but Choice of Leader Prompts Criticism
Hoping to mollify its critics, the Bush administration said Wednesday that it would conduct a yearlong study of how prescription drugs might be safely imported from Canada. But it then infuriated the critics by selecting Dr. Mark B. McClellan, the commissioner of food and drugs, to lead the study.

Dr. McClellan has adamantly opposed any relaxation of the rules barring drug imports. He says such imports would be unsafe, and his agency has threatened legal action against cities and states that help people import Canadian drugs.
From the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle:
Second drug importer opens
There's a new storefront opening in Wichita to help consumers get their prescription drugs from Canada for less money.

The American Drug Club is a Canadian prescription service center opening Wednesday at 1115 S. Glendale, the southeast corner of Parklane Shopping Center. It joins Canada Drug on South West Street in offering Wichitans a way to get their prescriptions filled in Canada.

From USA Today:
Lawsuit challenges ban on Canadian drugs
An Illinois couple filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Bush administration, challenging as unconstitutional the law that bars consumers from buying prescription drugs from Canada.

While the FDA has successfully confronted enterprises that help U.S. residents buy drugs in Canada — winning a key case against a chain of such stores in November — no consumer has challenged the FDA over the laws that govern the importation of drugs.
Canadians could soon be caught in Internet pharmacy fight: pharmacist
Canadians who buy their drugs from independent retail pharmacies may soon have to find another dispenser because the businesses say they've become unfairly tangled up in the cross-border fight over Internet pharmacies.

Pfizer Canada banned two other drug wholesalers Thursday from distributing the company's products, including a Winnipeg-based company that supplies medicine to more than 120 independent pharmacies.

From NewsHour:
The governor of Illinois Thursday backed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to overturn the ban on buying prescription drugs from Canada.

Illinois residents Ray and Gaylee Andrews on Thursday filed the suit, which seeks class-action status, in Washington, D.C.

"If this lawsuit succeeds, the state of Illinois can go ahead and import prescription drugs from Canada," Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich told reporters.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Illinois takes on drug ban
The governor of Illinois initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, seeking a class-action ruling to legalize Canadian drug purchases by states, cities and individuals.

The case, closely watched in California, asserts that the federal ban on the importation of prescription drugs violates patients' constitutional right to privacy by restricting consumers' ability to make personal decisions about where they buy medications.
From the Boston Globe:
Pfizer targets Canadian pipeline
Pfizer Inc. is escalating its fight against the cross-border Canadian drug trade, cutting off the supply of such popular prescription medicines as Lipitor and Celebrex to two Canadian wholesalers that it suspects are feeding a distribution chain for American consumers.

The two pharmacy wholesalers -- of about 20 wholesalers in Canada -- are based in Manitoba and Alberta, provinces with scores of Internet mail-order pharmacies that have sprung up in response to demand for lower-cost drugs in the United States. Pfizer's move struck home, according to a representative of the Canadian Internet pharmacy industry, who sent out an urgent e-mail alert Thursday to members.

From the San Jose Mercury News:
Pawlenty promises to battle Pfizer over plan
Gov. Tim Pawlenty intends to ask the state's pension fund to lead an effort to persuade drug giant Pfizer Inc. not to cut off supplies to Canadian pharmacies that allegedly sell to Americans.

On Thursday the company began shutting off shipments to two wholesalers that allegedly supplied medicine to pharmacies that sold to Americans. Last month, Minnesota became the first state to operate a Web site that helps residents import medications from Canada.

From CBC Manitoba:
Pfizer cuts off local drug wholesaler
The world's largest drug company is cutting off supplies to a Winnipeg wholesaler who deals with internet pharmacies.

Pfizer is penalizing Procurity Pharmacy Services for dealing with pharmacies that sell prescriptions to American customers online at prices far lower than those found in the United States.

From the Shawano (Wisc.) Leader:
Wisconsin's prescription drug Web site proves popular
A state-run Internet site received more than 80,000 hits after linking to Canadian pharmacies where people can buy cheaper drugs, the governor's office said.

Nearly 1,700 people signed an online petition posted at the site,, which Gov. Jim Doyle launched Wednesday, Doyle spokesman Josh Morby said.

From the Sacramento Bee:
Small pharmacy braces for Canadian storefront
Canada may soon be too close for comfort at Professional Village Pharmacy, an independent drugstore that has thrived in an unassuming Arden-area strip mall since 1959.

From the National Post:
Drug giant cuts supply to Canada
The world's largest drug maker revealed yesterday it has cut off its supply to two major Canadian wholesalers in a dramatic bid to stem the export of medicine to the United States.

Pfizer Canada's move marks the first time any pharmaceutical firm has shut out a wholesaler in the growing war over cross-border drug sales.

Friday, February 27, 2004

From the Fort Worth (TX) Star Telegram:
Pawlenty to try new tactic in drug reimportation dispute
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked the state's pension fund to draft a shareholder resolution opposing efforts by Pfizer Inc. to cut off supplies to Canadian Internet pharmacies that sell to Americans.

On Thursday, Pfizer began shutting off shipments to two wholesalers that allegedly supplied medicine to pharmacies that sold to Americans. Last week, it stopped shipping product to several Canadian Internet pharmacies.

From the La Crosse (Wisc.) Tribune:
Prescription site draws some seniors; others might need help with computers
Verona Smith is tired of expensive prescription drugs and lack of action by the federal government about it.

The 80-year-old Holmen, Wis., woman took action on her own the past few months by buying three prescription drugs from a Canadian online pharmacy. She has saved $140 and expects to save about $600 a year on three drugs, including one for glaucoma.

"We're on a fixed income but not bad off like some older people," Smith said. "But it was outrageous what drug companies were charging for drugs in the United States. We were tired of it and decided to check out the Internet. We saved at least 40 percent, and we're satisfied so far."

From the Champlain Channel (NY):
Burlington City Employees Can Buy Canadian Drugs
Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle has lived up to his promise.

On Thursday, Clavelle announced that Burlington will become the third city in the United States to offer city employees the option of buying medication over the border in Ontario, ignoring warnings from the FDA that what he's suggesting violates federal law.

It's an apparent violation of U.S. law, but city leaders say the risk is worth it.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

From the San Jose Mercury News:
Pfizer Cuts Supplies to 2 Canadian Dealers
Pfizer Inc. cut off supplies to two Canadian drug wholesalers on Thursday, firing a new salvo in the escalating battle between Americans seeking low-cost drugs and the pharmaceutical industry.

It is the first time a drugmaker has choked the supply to wholesalers, although Pfizer as well as other pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling medicines to various Canadian Internet pharmacies.
From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
PRESCRIPTIONS FROM CANADA: State expands drug Web site
Gov. Jim Doyle unveiled an expansion to Wisconsin's prescription drug Web site Wednesday that offers access to cheaper Canadian prescription drugs -along with multiple disclaimers warning the state isn't responsible for the accuracy of the information or any injuries that might result.

The expansion makes Wisconsin the second state in the nation to offer access to Canadian pharmacies online, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota launched a similar site earlier this year.

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
Wisconsin to post Canadian pharmacy info
Following Minnesota's lead, Wisconsin today will add information about Canadian pharmacies to its state Web site in an effort to help residents save money on prescription drugs.

Federal regulators and the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin remain opposed to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's expansion of the state Web site —

From the Baltimore Sun:
Governors rally for liberalized prescription imports
A bipartisan group of governors and lawmakers rallied on Capitol Hill yesterday for liberalized prescription drug importation as a means of cutting the skyrocketing cost of medication.

"It's wrong when Americans have to pay prices for prescription drugs that are far above prices paid in Canada or anywhere else in the industrialized world," Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois said. "Re-importing American drugs from Canada is a constructive solution to a serious and growing problem."

From the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel:
CanaRx says it could save state $456M a year
Representatives of a Canadian drug distribution company told lawmakers Tuesday they could save the state about $456 million a year on 61 of Tenn-Care's 100 most costly prescriptions.

On one drug alone, cholesterol-lowering Zocor, CanaRx Services Inc. claims it could save Tennessee more than half of the $39 million that was spent on six months worth of prescriptions last year.

From the Nashville City Paper:
Canadian firm presents drug plan to Senate panel
Canadian pharmaceutical company CanaRx Services Inc. told the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday it could save TennCare roughly $228.4 million in drug prescription money.

CanaRx President Tony Howard asked lawmakers to set up a pilot program with state employees, giving them the choice of using the company’s services. He said the pilot program would reduce the state’s drug costs up to 40 percent and eliminate co-pays for the individuals.

From Fox News:
States Consider Defying Law to Import Drugs
Each year, thousands of Americans are getting their prescription drugs filled illegally over the Internet from pharmacies in Canada. Now, more than two-dozen states are considering joining them.

Many of the drugs that come over the border are actually made in the United States and shipped to Canada. But with Canadian price controls, even shipping the drugs back to the United States is cheaper for Americans than ordering them at home.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

From the San Jose Mercury News:
FDA calls Minnesota's drug Web site illegal
A defiant Gov. Tim Pawlenty vowed to keep Minnesota's prescription-drug Web site running Tuesday, despite stern warnings that "it is illegal and it is unsafe" in the eyes of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Peter Pitts, associate FDA commissioner, warned Tuesday that the state of Minnesota is acting illegally by encouraging its residents to buy lower-cost prescription medicines from Canada.

From the Fort Worth (TX) Star Telegram:
Wisconsin Follows Lead on Drug Imports
Wisconsin will begin providing its residents with access to Canadian Internet pharmacies on Wednesday, Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday, even as federal regulators issued new warnings to another state that has already done it.

"I can understand why we're fighting drug companies," Doyle, a Democrat, said Tuesday. "I can't understand why we're fighting the federal government."
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Doyle makes case for buying cheaper drugs from Canada
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle took his case for letting state residents buy cheaper medicines from Canada to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, speaking at a hearing that included strong rebukes of the Bush administration.

The event drew three other governors as well as federal lawmakers, some of whom angrily lashed out at the White House and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for standing in the way of letting people import less expensive drugs.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Pawlenty undeterred by FDA letter
One day after Gov. Tim Pawlenty was scolded by federal officials for proceeding with a state Web site that helps Minnesotans in search of low-cost Canadian prescription drugs, he co-hosted a prescription drug summit in Washington, D.C., that drew praise from other governors and senators.

Appearing relaxed and unremorseful, Pawlenty traded ideas with governors from Illinois, Wisconsin and West Virginia, saying that "as governors, it's our job to look for innovations and new ways to bring prescription drug costs down."

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

From the Washington Post:
Senators Threaten to Stall Nomination
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) threatened yesterday to hold up the nomination of Mark McClellan to run the federal Medicare program because they are frustrated by his refusal as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration to permit importation of lower-cost medicines from Canada.
From the Munster (Ind.) Times:
Blagojevich takes import drug case to D.C.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continued his push Tuesday for the importation of cheaper prescription drugs, urging the Food and Drug Administration, Congress and the White House to support a pilot program for his state.

"We're here to share ideas and develop new, innovative solutions to the growing crisis in prescription drug prices," Blagojevich said. By importing drugs from Canada, Blagojevich said Illinois state health plan participants could save nearly $91 million annually.
White House, FDA blasted for blocking prescription drug imports from Canada
U.S. regulators should support imports of cheaper prescription medicines from Canada and investigate attempts by the drug industry to limit supplies north of the border, a Capitol Hill summit on the issue was told Tuesday.

Purported safety concerns are no excuse for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's refusal to participate in state pilot projects to buy drugs in Canada for their workers and retirees, a number of governors and federal legislators said, adding that Canadian pharmacies can be inspected.
From the Nashville City Paper:
Drugs: $228 million off
Canadian pharmaceutical company CanaRx Services Inc. told the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday it could save TennCare roughly $228.4 million in drug prescription money.

CanaRx President Tony Howard asked lawmakers to set up a pilot program with state employees, giving them the choice of using the company’s services. He said the pilot program would reduce the state’s drug costs up to 40 percent and eliminate co-pays for the individuals.
From USA Today:
Minnesota's Canadian drug Web site draws FDA warning
The Food and Drug Administration has sent Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty a harsh warning, calling a state program to help Minnesotans buy low-priced prescription drugs from Canada "unsafe, unsound and ill-considered."

The letter sent Monday stopped short of ordering a shutdown of the month-old Minnesota RX Connect Web site, which directs people to state-
approved Canadian pharmacies, but urged Pawlenty to "reconsider your action."
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
State sets up link to Canadian pharmacies
By week's end, the state will offer an Internet link to Canadian pharmacies that offers Wisconsin residents a chance to pay lower prices for their prescriptions, Gov. Jim Doyle said Monday.

Doyle said the state-backed Web site will be expanded to facilitate "the direct purchase between the citizens of Wisconsin and the Canadian pharmacy - and not by the state of Wisconsin."

Monday, February 23, 2004

From New York Newsday:
AP Poll: Drugs Costly for U.S. Families
Almost a third of Americans say paying for prescription drugs is a problem in their families, and many are cutting dosages to deal with the crunch, according to a poll by The Associated Press.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in the AP-Ipsos poll said the government should make it easier to buy cheaper drugs from Canada or other countries.

From WTVO-TV (Ill.):
Stateline Company Selling Canadian Drugs May Be Legal
A Pecatoncia man who sells Canadian prescription drugs in the stateline says he's found a way to stay within the U.S. law.

Chuck Finch runs a Canadian prescription company in the stateline. Canadian RX Drug Benefit,tThe company he represents, filed for a Canadian corporation status because it felt it was the best way to protect their business.
Obscure Ottawa board helps keep Canadian drug prices low, U.S. demand high
It's no secret a primary battleground in the intensifying cross-border fight over affordable medicine is the great chasm between prescription drug prices in Canada and the United States.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 22, 2004

From the Fort Worth (TX) Star Telegram:
FDA opposes 2 states touting Canadian drugs
The Food and Drug Administration is headed for a collision with the leaders of Minnesota and Wisconsin over state-operated Web sites that direct residents to specific pharmacies in Canada where they can reliably buy relatively cheap prescription drugs.

Minnesota put up its Web site late last month, and Wisconsin officials say theirs will go up this week. Officials in both states say they are trying to make sure that residents, who are already buying many drugs from Canadian Internet sites, purchase them from safe and professional operations.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

From the Appleton (Wisc.) Post Crescent:
Feds: Don’t do Canadian Web site
Federal regulators warned Friday that the governor shouldn’t try to expand a state Web site to help people order cheaper prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

Importing foreign drugs is illegal. But Gov. Jim Doyle announced Thursday he would expand the state’s prescription drug Web site to include information on Canadian pharmacies.

Doyle’s office hasn’t released any other details, but Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Secretary Helene Nelson said she and a team of state officials spent the week inspecting three mail-order pharmacies in Calgary, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

From the New York Times:
Several States Investigate Importing Canadian Drugs
Minnesota and Wisconsin will ask other states to join them in screening online drugstores in Canada in a move to counter warnings from the pharmaceutical industry and the Food and Drug Administration that imported prescription drugs could be unsafe.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Gov. James E. Doyle of Wisconsin will raise the issue of state inspections of online pharmacies at a meeting of governors on Tuesday in Washington.

From the Boston Globe:
Menino, 11 other mayors boost efforts to import drugs
With city officials from five states following his lead, Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday escalated his push to bring down drug prices, joining the mayors of 11 other New England cities in asking the federal government to open the Canadian border to imports of prescription medication.

"This is an issue that's really affecting municipalities across America," Menino said. "It must be addressed."

It was the clearest signal yet that Menino is establishing himself as a national player in the movement to import cheaper drugs from Canada, a concept that is drawing interest from cash-strapped states and cities across the country.

From the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News:
Lambert considers having city buy cheaper drugs from Canada
Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. met with mayors from across New England Friday to discuss the possibility of importing prescription drugs from Canada, which is currently illegal.

The Food and Drug Administration "has frowned upon this but we are finding more and more cities around the country asking the question, ‘Why does the same drug cost 50 or 60 percent less (in Canada) than it does in the United States?’ " Lambert said.

Friday, February 20, 2004

From KATV (Ark.):
Mayors Urge Changes to Drug Import Rules
Mayors from New England cities urged federal officials on Friday to implement controls on prescription drug imports from Canada, saying consumer safety measures would smooth the way for legal cross-border bulk purchases of medication.

Mayors from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont met in Boston on Friday at a conference called by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Twelve mayors signed a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson asking for federal action to certify the safety of drugs bought from Canadian suppliers.

From the Boston Business Journal:
Menino: City will begin buying Canadian drugs July 1
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Friday the city will begin buying low-cost prescription drugs from Canada for some retired employees on July 1, Bloomberg Business News reported.

The program will save the city as much as $1.5 million, Menino said in a press conference. The U.S. government, which prohibits importation of drugs, doesn't enforce the law for individuals

From the Hopkinton (Mass.) Town Crier:
Con men call from Canada
Seniors battling skyrocketing prescription drug costs must now beware another pitfall - con men.

Louise Lawson, 69, of Hopkinton got a call last week from a number her caller ID told her was in Montreal, Canada. She answered the phone, and spoke to a man who identified himself as a representative from a discount drug company.
From the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal:
Canadian drugs to be scarcer
Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug manufacturer, has cut off supplies to a number of Canadian mail-order pharmacies as part of the escalating battle between the industry and American consumers hunting for bargains across the border.

Supplies could get short down the road, but for now local consumers who buy their prescriptions through service centers in the area won't have trouble getting their Pfizer medications, suppliers said.

Guidelines for buying Canadian
The FDA contends that it is illegal to reimport prescription drugs from Canada, but the agency has never prosecuted individual consumers.

The Canadian International Pharmacy Association offers the following guidelines for Americans considering looking for a licensed, safe and reputable Canadian pharmacy:

From the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times:
Prescription Web site troubles pharmacists
Alec Murray is a pharmacist at a small, independent pharmacy in a town of about 900 people.

His newest competition isn't a big chain store moving into the area -- it's the state-sponsored Web site that links Minnesotans with Canadian pharmacies.

Murray and many other pharmacists aren't happy about, which was launched by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other state officials about three weeks ago. The popular site, which is visited by an average of about 1,000 people a day, connects Minnesotans to two Canadian pharmacies.

From WBAY (Wisc.):
FDA, Governor's Office Talk Tough Over Drug Web Site
Federal officials aren't too happy with Governor Jim Doyle. They say he shouldn't try to offer links to Canadian pharmacies on a state prescription drug Web site.

Importing foreign drugs is illegal, but Governor Doyle's looking for ways to get cheaper drugs into the state.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
State to set up Web site for buying Canadian drugs
Wisconsin will have a Web site up and running next week that will allow state residents to buy prescription drugs from Canada, Gov. Jim Doyle said Thursday.

Doyle said the site would be similar to one operated by the state of Minnesota, which offers links to prescription drug order forms from two state-inspected Canadian pharmacies. Minnesota's site allows people to download forms so they can fax or mail their orders directly to the pharmacies; prescriptions can't be ordered electronically through the Web site.
From New York Newsday:
The FDA Huffs, but Canadian Drugs Are OK (Editorial by a pharmacy rofessor at the University of Florida's College of Pharmacy)
The Food and Drug Administration would have consumers believe they're taking a huge risk when they send their prescriptions to pharmacies north of the border, where the same drugs cost far less than they do here.

Hogwash. The fact is, drugs purchased through the Canadian health care system are every bit as safe as those available in the United States.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Canadian drug vendor will open store in capital
A Canadian company that helps U.S. patients buy drugs from a Manitoba pharmacy will open a storefront in Sacramento early next month, defying federal law and fueling a heated debate in California about foreign drug imports.

Northcare Drugs is not a pharmacy and its local employees will not touch a single pill. The store to be located at 2730 Arden Way will consist of little more than a computer, a phone, a fax machine and a couple of customer service representatives who help patients send prescription orders to PolarMeds, a pharmacy licensed in Manitoba to export drugs.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

From the Palm Beach (FL) Post:
Wis. Web Site for Canadian Meds Running
Wisconsin will have a Web site up and running next week that will enable its residents to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, Gov. Jim Doyle said Thursday.

Doyle said the site will be similar to one operated by neighboring Minnesota, which offers links to order forms from two state-inspected Canadian pharmacies. Buyers download the forms, which they then fax or mail directly to the pharmacies.

From the Globe and Mail:
Net pharmacies squeezed as Pfizer pulls the plug
Some Internet pharmacies cut off this month by one of the world's biggest drug companies are struggling to calm panicked U.S. customers and find the supplies they need to stay in business.

"I think this is the biggest threat that we've faced," Jeff Uhl, a pharmacist and owner of Universal Drugstore in Winnipeg, said Thursday.

From the Boston Globe:
Pfizer cuts some supplies, tensions rise
After issuing a warning, Pfizer Inc. said it has cut off several Canadian internet pharmacies for exporting its drugs, raising tensions between pharmaceutical firms and American patients seeking less expensive medicines.

The world's biggest drug company wouldn't say Thursday how many companies received the Feb. 12 letter which said the pharmacies violated business agreements by either selling drugs to individuals outside Canada or selling to others who would export. The letter said Pfizer's authorized distributors in Canada were told to cut the companies off immediately.

From the Advocate:
Pfizer cuts off supplies to Canadian mail-order companies
In a February 12 letter, Pfizer informed seven Canadian pharmacies that they were no longer approved to purchase the company's products from Pfizer Canada's authorized distributors. GlaxoSmithKline, which markets six anti-HIV medications, late last year began restricting shipments of its drugs to Canadian pharmacies that export to the United States.

From the Edmonton Journal:
Roving pharmacists at your service
The house call started making a comeback in the health care system Wednesday, thanks to an Edmonton-based chain of drugstores across Canada and the United States.

Instead of doctors, the roving medical advisers will be pharmacists, dispatched by Katz Group Canada Ltd., owner of more than 1,500 Rexall, Pharma Plus, Medicine Shoppe, Guardian and I.D.A. outlets in Canada, plus 1,100 Synder's Drug Stores in the U.S.

From (Calif.):
Biotech leaders oppose cheaper Canada drugs
Biotechnology industry leaders joined federal government officials Thursday to warn that efforts to make it easier to import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada will endanger California's growing biotechnology sector.

The criticism, from participants in a private conference in Southern California on drug imports, was a response to attempts by the state legislature and others to save money for taxpayers and consumers through imports.
From the Washington Post:
Pfizer Cuts Supplies to Canadian Drugstores
Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug manufacturer, has cut off supplies to a number of Canadian mail-order pharmacies as part of the escalating battle between the industry and U.S. consumers hunting for bargains across the border.

Pfizer sent a letter Feb. 12 to Winnipeg-based Universal Drug Store and a half dozen other companies informing them that "effective immediately, your pharmacy is no longer approved to purchase Pfizer products from Pfizer Canada's authorized distributors."

From CBC New Brunswick:
Report drug reactions, save lives: doctors
Some New Brunswick doctors and pharmacists say it should be mandatory to report adverse drug reactions.

Reporting is voluntary, and Health Canada estimates that only between one and 10 percent of adverse drug reactions are reported.

Pharmacist Peter Ford of Moncton reports six or seven adverse drug reactions a year. But it could take years before the information is published in a medical journal.

Ford says it would be useful to make the reporting mandatory. "These reports are anecdotal but at least it gives you, especially if you start seeing trends where things are causing rashes, or various syndroms that may cause blisters or something like that. And the worst adverse reaction is mortality."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

There has been a general site update. If you have any comments, send an e-mail to
Editor's note: Please note the next three articles. The first says that Canada has no pharmaceutical research indsutry. The next two discuss recent breakthroughs by Canadian scientists in the areas of SARS and MS.

From the Sacramento Bee:
FDA: Drug research at risk
"Canada and Western European countries that regulate drug prices have lost their indigenous pharmaceutical industries," Gollaher said. "In the free market of the United States, where prices are certainly higher, patients are getting access to drugs in human trials faster and seeing the benefits of medical innovation much sooner than patients overseas."

From the Medical Posting:
Canadian discovery promises new MS treatments
Canadian scientists have identified a new target for the development of drugs to treat and possibly even reverse multiple sclerosis (MS).

"We have identified a key enzyme that triggers MS-like disease in an animal model," says Sam David, a neuroscientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. "We also show blocking this enzyme has a remarkable effect in preventing disease and relapses."

From the Birmingham (AL) News:
Southern Research to test SARS serum
Canada's researchers developed the three vaccines in a high-speed effort after an outbreak of severe acute respiratory virus in Toronto killed 44 people last year. The vaccines use different methods to stimulate immune responses. One uses an inactivated virus, another uses a weakened virus and a third uses proteins.

"We're going to see which approach works best," Voss said.

Canadian scientists hope to begin human trials next year, pending the outcome of animal trials.
From the San Fransisco Chronicle:
Medicine's northern exposure. Government begins campaign against drugs from Canada
Federal authorities on Tuesday started an information campaign in California to try to discourage people from buying their prescription drugs from Canada.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the California Pharmacists Association, announced plans to distribute pamphlets and other materials to pharmacies and consumers about the dangers of buying drugs from foreign countries. This comes at a time when San Francisco, other local lawmakers and state officials are proposing ways to help customers buy their drugs from Canada.

From the UCLA Daily Bruin (Calif.):
A closer look: Some go to Canada for drugs
With high drug prices rampant throughout the United States, individual consumers, clinics and even some state governments are turning to Canada to acquire medication at cheaper costs, despite the illegality of such purchases.

Though there is national interest in Canadian prescription medicine, driven by the disparity in cross-border prices, the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center has yet to choose Canadian imports over U.S.-manufactured drugs due to the risks associated with such activity.

From Maine Today:
Legislation encourages proper disposal of prescription drugs
Maine could become the first state to launch a program that uses prepaid mailers to promote the proper disposal of expired or unused prescription drugs.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Lynn Bromley, D-South Portland, is designed to keep such drugs from polluting the waste stream, posing a danger to small children or being sold on the street.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

From CBS Market Watch:
Lipitor, Zocor are top sellers
Americans' battles with high cholesterol and stomach troubles generated the most sales for pharmaceutical companies last year, according to a new study.

Pfizer's Lipitor, a cholesterol-reducer in the family of drugs known as statins, was the leading U.S. prescription drug sold in 2003 for the third consecutive year, according to a survey released Tuesday from IMS Health, which does market research for the health-care industry.

Another statin -- Merck's Zocor -- remained in second place, while TAP Pharmaceutical's chronic heartburn remedy Prevacid came in third.
From Health Canada:
Important Safety Information Regarding the Antiparkinson Drug Permax® (pergolide mesylate): Sudden Onset of Sleep
Shire BioChem Inc., in association with Health Canada, would like to inform you of important safety information pertaining to Permax® (pergolide mesylate), a dopamine agonist, indicated for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of early and advanced idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. As reported previously for other dopaminergic agents indicated in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease1, this safety information advises of the possibility of patients suddenly falling asleep while performing daily activities, including driving a car, while receiving treatment with Permax (pergolide mesylate). Somnolence is a known potential side effect of Permax (pergolide mesylate), but the occurrence of sudden onset of sleep during daily activities has been rarely reported.

From the Maryland Gazette:
Forum scheduled on drugs from Canada
A forum on the proposed purchase of prescription drugs from Canada for county employees and retirees will be held Monday.

The forum, hosted by County Councilman Thomas E. Perez (D-Dist. 5) of Takoma Park, will be held at 7 p.m. in the third-floor hearing room of the Stella B. Werner County Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.
From WEEK-TV (Ill.):
Canadian Drug Issue
Political candidates throughout the country have made purchasing prescription drugs from Canada a key issue within their campaigns.

While the law restricts state government or businesses from buying medicine from Canada, there's nothing keeping you from doing so for your own personal use.

'Hillbilly heroin' takes strong hold on addicts
Police in Atlantic Canada say the abuse of so-called "hillbilly heroin" -- the name given to prescription painkiller OxyContin because of its relatively cheap buzz -- is on the rise.

First introduced in 1995 by Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn., the powerful OxyContin offers relief to those with cancer and chronic pain.

The drug has become an increasingly popular choice for doctors -- with prescriptions dispensed by pharmacies Canada-wide soaring 400 per cent since 2000.

But it's also grown in popularity among abusers, lured by the high produced from crushing, then injecting, snorting or swallowing the drug.

From the Toronto Star:
Do vital drugs boost risk of breast cancer?
Antibiotic use is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, a new study has found, raising the possibility that women who take the widely used medicines are more prone to one of the most feared malignancies.

Canada wins round in antibiotic resistance battle
Canada appears to have won a round in the critical battle against antibiotic resistance, new data released today suggests.
But experts warn that the fight to stay ahead of bacteria's ability to evade these essential drugs will never be over.

"This is a battle that we'll continually have to fight," infectious disease expert Dr. Donald Low said as he released data from an annual report card on antibiotic resistance rates.

The first-of-its-kind study of more than 10,000 Washington state women concluded that those who used the most antibiotics had double the chances of being struck by breast cancer.

Canada's antibiotic resistance campaign pays off
Canada seems to be keeping ahead of bacteria and their ability to evade antibiotics, but the battle isn't over.

The Canadian Bacterial Surveillance Network's annual report on antibiotic resistance says rates are levelling off, a welcome change from years past.

Sharp increase in children hurt by prescription drugs
The number of Canadian children harmed by suspected prescription drug reactions has tripled in the last five years, CBC News has learned.

CBC obtained the database Health Canada uses to track suspected adverse drug reactions. It shows about 500 reports of children who had what are suspected to be adverse drug reactions in the last year.

From the Edmonton Journal:
Drug risks hidden from public
Pharmaceutical companies are deceiving patients and doctors by keeping negative results from drug trials "locked in the filing cabinet," Can-ada's leading medical journal warns.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal says Health Canada is complicit in this "file drawer phenomenon" by too often keeping quiet about buried evidence that questions drug safety and effectiveness

From the Globe and Mail:
Antidepressants found ineffective on teenagers
Widely used antidepressant drugs prescribed to tens of thousands of Canadian teens and children are barely more effective than placebos in treating adolescent depression, according to a leading Canadian expert in the field.

The assertion by psychiatrist Jane Garland follows a recent cascade of critical information questioning the risk and effectiveness of prescribing antidepressant medication for troubled young patients.

Monday, February 16, 2004

From WILX-TV (Mich.):
American Drug Club Closes
After opening just five months ago, the American Drug Club in Lansing is closing its doors. Owners say the Michigan Ave. location didn't attract enough foot traffic to pay the overhead. So, to save costs, management has opened a call center and a prescription drop off location at 1429 E. Michigan.
From the Palm Beach (FL) Post:
Demand for pharmacists skyrockets
It seems as if there's a new pharmacy on every corner. But is there a pharmacist there, too?

Not always. Drugstore chains, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and discount retailers are clamoring for pharmacists. Baby Boomers are aging, they're moving to South Florida, and they're taking more medicines. So Walgreens and Eckerd drugstores are expanding. Discounters Wal-Mart and Target are adding pharmacies. And new players in the market, such as CVS, recently began opening stores in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

From the Sacramento Bee:
More shop for drugs in Canada
The controversy over drug imports also has heated up in the last year because cash-strapped states and cities, faced with steep increases in drug costs for government health programs, have pressured federal authorities for permission to purchase prescriptions from Canada. California is one of at least 11 states looking north for drugs. Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities doing the same.

Today, though it is illegal, an estimated 1 million Americans buy drugs from Canada, accounting for at least $1 billion in annual prescription sales.

"If I'm breaking the law, fine," said Goes. "If they want to bring me to Washington and put me in jail, then their law says they have to give me my drugs in prison."

From the (Fall River, Mass) Herald News:
Pharmacist cracks down on patients
Tom Cory, owner of Standard Pharmacy on East Main Street, is asking customers who take pain medication to submit to pill counts, plan their vacations and out-of-town funerals around their medication needs, and to use common sense if carrying their pills on them.

"Sometimes they lose the wrong prescription," said Cory, referring to pain medications like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. "They never lose blood pressure ... or cholesterol medication."

Saturday, February 14, 2004

From the Australian:
Getting the best medicine ?
WITH the ink not yet dry on the long-awaited free trade agreement with the US, the war of words over the controversial Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme began in earnest this week.

Depending on who you talked to, the agreement will protect the integrity of the scheme or will, as critics warn , force Australians to pay more for essential prescription drugs.

(Editor's note: not directly related to Canadian pharmacy, but price contol issue in Australia has interesting similarities.)
From the Mansfield (Mass.) News:
Canadian drug program possible for town employees
As part of an ongoing effort to whittle down the town's budget before Town Meeting time, Town Manager John D'Agostino announced Mansfield is "leading the charge" in an effort by the Southeast Regional Health Group to enable current and retired employees to be able to purchase maintenance drugs from Canada.

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
N.D. POLITICS: Satrom proposes Canadian drugs Web site, venture capital
North Dakota gubernatorial candidate Joe Satrom said Thursday that, if elected, he would put in place a state initiative to import cheaper drugs from Canada and start a venture capital fund to drive job growth.

From the Miami Herald:
As U.S. regulators debate whether a popular class of antidepressant drugs causes suicidal behavior in children, their review is also raising questions about whether the drugs are effective.

The use of antidepressants to treat depression or other conditions, such as attention-deficit disorder, in children is growing rapidly even though there are few credible studies showing that they work.
From the Boston Channel:
Pharmacists Fired For Refusing Morning-After Pill For Rape Victim
In Denton, a pharmacist for Eckerd said he and two other pharmacists have been fired. SURVEY
Do you agree that these pharmacists should have been fired for refusing to fill a rape victim's prescription for the morning-after pill?

The three had refused to fill an emergency contraception prescription for a woman who had been raped. Gene Herr said he and two co-workers, whom he would not name, were fired Jan. 29, six days after declining to fill the prescription.
From the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:
He's whole-hog for cheap drugs
Told that the U.S. government could do nothing to control cheap pig imports from Canada, Gutknecht recalls: "All of a sudden a light bulb went off over my head and I said, "You mean we have free markets when it comes to pork bellies, but not when it comes to Prilosec?' And he chuckled on the other end of the phone and said, "Well, that's right."

From KGW-TV (OR):
House votes to let Washington buy drugs from Canada
The state House, hoping to shave millions from the state budget and help struggling seniors, on Friday approved legislation to let Washington state agencies buy prescription drugs in Canada.

The lopsided vote, 90-7, still requires state Senate and gubernatorial approval. But more significantly, the buy-Canadian gambit also requires the signoff of the Bush administration, which has blocked similar efforts elsewhere.

From KATU-TV (OR):
House votes to let Washington buy drugs from Canada
The state House of Representatives approved legislation today to let Washington state agencies buy prescription drugs in Canada.

Lawmakers hope the bill will help struggling seniors while shaving millions of dollars from the state budget.

From KOTV (Okla.):
Local Companies Providing Lower-Cost Canadian Prescription Drugs
Patients looking for a way to cut prescription drug costs by buying their drugs from Canada now have another way to do it.

Steve Leslie and Ken Hayes have opened Assisted Senior Care in Collinsville. They say their clients can save 50 percent, sometimes up to 70 percent, for a 3 month supply of medicine from Canadian pharmacies.

From Lindsay (Ont.) This Week:
Grateful Lalani named top citizen
A Lakefield pharmacist to some and a community leader to many, Nick Lalani was recognized as an outstanding citizen Thursday by the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.

Upon accepting the 2003 Citizen of the Year Award, Mr. Lalani quickly noted the support he himself received that made his work in the community possible.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Some obtain medicines from Canada via Internet
Some consumers arrange Canadian drug purchases without the middleman.

Sandra Plopper, 66, of Marietta is saving almost $600 a month by importing her medicine herself through an Internet site.

Plopper takes 15 medications a month for health conditions that include asthma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Safety of Canada's internet pharmacies questioned
Failing to notify customers about unsafe recalled drugs and not providing childproof caps on medicine are some of several safety problems occurring among Canada's internet pharmacies, a report out of the U.S. says.

The study's findings came from a Minnesota delegation that inspected eight Canadian internet pharmacies two months ago. The report didn't reveal which individual pharmacies made mistakes.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Tucked between a Domino's Pizza and a veterinarian's office in this west Georgia city is what regulators call an outlaw operation.

Its customers say the shop is a lifeline, saving them hundreds of dollars.

The store, Canadian Med, connects consumers to Canadian pharmacies and medicines generally much cheaper than at U.S. drugstores

Friday, February 13, 2004

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
FDA urges Canada to crack down on Internet pharmacies
Troubling questions about the safety of Americans who order medicines from Canada have been raised by a review of Canadian Internet pharmacies by Minnesota regulators, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Citing the review, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan is urging Canadian officials to take more aggressive steps to regulate the pharmacies.

From Forbes:
US reports problems with Canadian Web pharmacies
U.S. regulators said Friday they had alerted Canadian authorities about safety problems uncovered at some Internet pharmacies that ship medicines across the border.

Officials from the state of Minnesota, which runs a Web site that directs consumers to sources of cheaper medicines, visited eight Canadian pharmacies that supply prescription drugs to Americans.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

As a new feature, will provide links to Health Canada or FDA drugs warnings as they are released.

From Health Canada:

From Suffolk Life (NY) Newspapers:
More & More Americans Agree Drugs Are Cheaper Across The Border
According to a recent 20-question survey administered by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, "Roughly two in three of all Americans support action by the United States Congress that would make it legal for individuals and states to purchase prescription drugs from Canada."

Leonie Huddy, director of Stony Brook's Center for Survey Research and an associate professor of political science, said this support cuts through all age groups and political affiliations.

From the Traverse City (Mich.) Record Eagle:
Many came to ask about low-cost medicines
Bernadette Prusakiewicz doesn't look like a renegade.

The grandmotherly Gaylord woman with soft, short curls and seven grown children had four prescription medications spread out on a desk before her Tuesday morning.

Prusakiewicz fought the cold to get to the American Drug Club in Gaylord for its grand opening.

She wanted to know how much she might save if she bought her medication through Canada, a practice the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says violates federal law.
From the Champlain (VT) Channel:
Benson Defends Prescription Drug Program
Gov. Craig Benson officially outlined his plan to allow New Hampshire residents to but cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, deflecting criticism that the plan is unsafe and illegal.

Federal law prohibits buying Canadian drugs, but the governor is taking advantage of new federal legislation that allows for exceptions to that rule. Benson said he sent a letter to Health and Human Services director Tommy Thompson asking for permission to buy prescription medications in Canada.

From WESH-TV (Fla.):
Truth Test: Are Bush Drug Ads Misleading?
...the claim that you won't be able to get cheaper prescriptions from Canada is false. While it's true the government technically prohibits importing drugs from foreign countries, the fact is 1.2 million Americans go to businesses or simply use the Internet in their homes to order Canadian drugs by mail. The Food and Drug Administration said it has no plans to take legal action against people who buy their prescriptions this way.

From the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin:
Plan for Canadian drugs gets mixed state reviews
A proposal that would allow ConnPACE participants to buy prescription drugs from Canada -- and waive their co-payments for each purchase -- received mixed reviews at public hearing Tuesday at the state Capitol.

"Given the amount of money it could save, it's irresponsible not to look into it," said Gretchen Vivier from the Health Care for All Coalition, an organization representing 37 groups including the Eastern Connecticut Area Agency on Aging.
From the Calgary Sun:
Spin off of vaccine maker raises questions over federal pandemic flu plan
The backbone of the federal pandemic flu plan, which will be released Thursday, is a contract to buy enough vaccine to inoculate all Canadians. But a question mark is hanging over the future of the vaccine manufacturer, leaving some to wonder how firm that backbone really is.

From the San Jose Mercury News:
LA councilman proposes city buy Canadian drugs
A city council member proposed Tuesday that Los Angeles buy cheaper prescription drugs in Canada to supply tens of thousands of jail inmates, disabled workers and retirees, even though it is illegal.

Councilman Dennis Zine submitted a motion to have the city turn to suppliers in Canada to meet the needs of its workers' compensation program and certain other employee drug programs, such as those for retired Fire Department personnel.

From WEEK-TV (Ill.):
Prescription Drug Debate
The solution to skyrocketing prescription drug prices is stirring up a debate between patients and pharmacists.

News 25's Jeff Muniz shows us how one Peoria mother and daughter are fighting higher prices by going to our neighbor to the north,Canada. In turn, that has neighborhood Pharmacists concerned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

From The Hill:
Powerful senators poised to move scaled-back reimportation bill
A group of powerful senators is discussing the possibility of moving a scaled-back drug reimportation bill on the floor this year as pharmacy groups and the drug industry lobby against legislation they say would endanger U.S. citizens.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz,), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and others have discussed how best to move a drug reimportation measure this year.
This post contains links to older articles not previously mentioned. To see the latest news from Tuesday, February 10th, go to the posts directly below this one.

From the Herald News (Mass.):
Kerry favors importing cheaper Canadian drugs
Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry said Wednesday he favors allowing cheaper prescription drugs into the country from Canada and using the buying power of the federal government to drive down prices.

Offering a package of health care proposals in response to President Bush’s State of the Union address, Kerry said as president he would end the role of brokers and middlemen who drive up prescription costs.

From the Journal News (NY):
New Westchester discount drug program faces federal scrutiny
Westchester residents will be able to buy low-cost medications from Canada under a discount drug service launched yesterday by county officials.

But that program, known as WestchesterRx, is already facing scrutiny from Food and Drug Administration officials who say it is illegal to bring prescription drugs from outside the country into the United States.

From the Virginian Pilot:
Va. panel nixes buying prescription drugs from Canada
A House committee on Thursday killed legislation that would have allowed the state to purchase inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada.

Del. Richard H. Black's proposal would have applied only to state-sponsored medical programs, including those for state employees and retirees. Black, R-Loudoun, estimated the program would save Virginia about $90 million a year.

From the Sacramento Bee:
Lawmakers look north for savings on prescriptions
Anxious to avoid more than $3 billion in proposed budget cuts to health programs, California lawmakers Tuesday explored whether the state might save hundreds of millions of dollars buying drugs from Canada.

Without federal approval, the state action would violate U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules. Still, California and several other states have started looking north for cheaper prescription medicines as soaring drug costs and ballooning budget deficits have made health officials increasingly desperate for more ways to save patients money on drugs.
From KAAL-TV (Minn.):
Pharmacists say Web medications can endanger safety
A group of more than 60 pharmacists and pharmacy students gathered at the state Capitol today to spread the message that a trend toward long-distance buying could hurt not only small-town pharmacies but also their patients.

Stephen Hoag is dean of the new college of pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He says more money is already spent correcting drug-related health problems than is spent on drugs themselves.
From the Toronto Star:
Stockpiling anti-virals not part of Ottawa's flu plan
Canada's blueprint for reducing death and social disruption during an influenza pandemic does not call for the stockpiling of anti-virals or antibiotics — drugs experts believe will be crucial during the early phase of the pandemic.

The federal government's pandemic flu plan, obtained by The Canadian Press, acknowledges vaccine probably won't be available during the first of several waves of flu expected to sweep rapidly around the country and the globe.

From NBC Columbus:
Merck CEO: Prescription Drugs Not Too Expensive
Some critics allege that high prices are not just created by research costs, but also by the cost of direct advertising that is turning consumers' heads, Hollingsworth reported.

Gilmartin dismissed that idea.

"The market determines the price," he said. "Not how much we spend."

From AlterNet:
Canadian Lifeline
The federal government's ban on buying prescription drugs from Canada has left some states frozen in their tracks. But Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is brazenly bucking federal law by using the World Wide Web to help Gopher State residents buy less expensive drugs from Canada.

Pawlenty has launched an informational Web site – MinnesotaRxConnect – that lists more than 800 drugs available from two Canadian pharmacies that sell for about 35 percent less than in the United States. The move sets up a conflict with the Food and Drug Administration, which says it's illegal and unsafe to re-import U.S.-manufactured medicines that have been sold to Canada or other countries.

From the (Madison, Wisc.) Capital Times:
Pocan site defies feds on Canada drug imports
Two Democratic Assembly members have rushed in where Gov. Jim Doyle fears to tread.

Mark Pocan of Madison, backed by Frank Boyle of Superior, has posted a direct link on to the state of Minnesota's Web site that in turn links consumers to Canadian drug companies.

From the Idaho State Journal:
Democrats want to legalize Canadian prescription drugs
Idaho's Democrats want to send a message to Washington, D.C.

"Legalize it," is their wish, a phrase often associated with illicit narcotics. But state representatives and senators have a different meaning.

They want national politicians to legalize drugs, but not the kinds that cost thousands and put people in hospitals. No, Democrats say these drugs would save citizens a lot of money and would keep them out of hospitals.

Today, they will propose a resolution asking the president and Congress to legalize the purchase of Canadian prescription drugs.

From the Champlain (VT) Channel:
Pharmacists Criticize Canadian Drug-Purchasing Plan
The governor's efforts to cut the cost of prescription drugs have triggered a backlash from New Hampshire pharmacists, who say the plan may cut bills but will put residents' health at risk.

Gov. Craig Benson has proposed creating a system in which New Hampshire residents can use a Web site to purchase medicine from Canada at a greatly reduced rate. A trio of pharmacists from New Hampshire and Canada testified Tuesday that the plan is a bad idea.

From Medical News Today:
Don't take your alzheimer's drug at bedtime
Millions of Alzheimer's patients who take memory-boosting drugs may impair their ability to remember by taking the medicine at bedtime, according to a study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).

Monday, February 09, 2004

Below are some older news articles that were not posted earlier

From the Globe and Mail:
Drug therapy could save 400 Ontario heart patients a year
Ensuring that heart-attack and heart-failure patients receive preventive medication upon discharge from the hospital could save up to 400 lives a year in Ontario, a study has found.

The findings come from a report card on Ontario's cardiac care, released Friday by several medical groups.

From the Boston Globe:
Forum urged on Canadian drug imports
In an effort to keep the pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to legalize prescription drugs imported from Canada, Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday invited about 30 New England mayors to a conference on the topic next month.

Menino said in a telephone interview that the Boston event will give attending mayors a chance to speak with specialists in legal liability and the safety of imported medicine and will address concerns about the FDA policy.

From the San Fransisco Chronicle:
Senator says buying Canadian drugs could save California millions
California could save as much as $30 million by buying Canadian drugs for state hospitals and prisons, but would be in direct conflict with federal regulations, under a bill unveiled Thursday by a state senator.

The bill, by Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton, D-San Francisco, would allow the state Department of General Services to consider Canadian pharmacies when seeking the best price on prescription medicines. The department buys drugs for the California prison system and state hospitals.

From the Washington Post:
FDA Warns 3 Firms to Stop Importing Drugs From Canada
Three companies that help Americans buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada received warning letters yesterday from the federal government accusing them of providing services that are illegal and a threat to public health.

The three Texas-based companies supply medications to, among others, employees and retirees of the city of Montgomery, Ala. Because of that relationship, the Food and Drug Administration acted quickly when it learned of it.

From KCRG (Iowa):
Governor Pushes Pilot Program on Cheaper Canadian Drugs
Governor Tom Vilsack wants Iowa to take the lead in looking to Canada for cheaper prescription medicines.

The Governor wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Vilsack promised to work with the FDA to implement a pilot re-importation program and he said such a project could provide a model for other states.
From the Manitowoc (Wisc.) Herald Times:
Officials look to Canada
Headline after headline speaks to the rising cost of health care. Americans are struggling to afford basic health care and, for citizens reliant on prescription drugs, the financial hardships are staggering.

Gov. Jim Doyle for much of the past year has focused on identifying ways to help Wisconsin residents gain access to prescription drugs at the lowest, most competitive prices, including drugs from Canada. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits importing the drugs, because they aren’t regulated.
From Naples (FL) News:
From Canada with a discount
Nestled in an office park on Bonita Beach Road is one family's response to rising prescription drug prices: Canadian/RX Prescription Services, a small business that helps import drugs from a Canadian pharmacy.

Steve Halsted, 59, who works in real estate, and his son John, 28, rent a small, spartan office suite at 4267 Bonita Beach Road. With little other than standard office equipment and another employee, they have connected several thousand local residents to CCB Pharmacy in Vancouver, which sells drugs at significantly lower prices than ones in the United States.
Birth control patch finally hits Canadian stores
Canada's first contraceptive patch has arrived.

Evra, which was approved for sale in this country nearly 18 months ago by Health Canada, is finally hitting Canadian pharmacies, makers Janssen-Ortho said Wednesday.

Evra is a transdermal contraceptive, meaning the drug makes its way into a woman's system via a small patch worn on the skin. It provides the same protection against unwanted pregnancies as birth control pills.
From CBC Saskatchewan:
Pharmacist to get $550,000 for defamation
The Saskatchewan court of appeal upheld a decision to award $550,000 to a pharmacist driven out of business by lies spread by a local doctor.

Harvey Duke used to own a drugstore in Broadview. Dr. Marc Puts drove Duke out of business by spreading lies about the pharmacy.

Puts was telling people the pharmacist was a crook. So Duke sued for defamation and won more than two years ago.

From the (Palm Springs, CA) Desert Sun:
Firms offer path to Canadian drugs
Andrea Berger has seen customers break down in tears of relief when they realize how much money they’ll be saving on prescription drugs ordered from Canadian pharmacies.

She and her husband, Richard Berger, have co-operated Ameri Can Rx Inc. since last April, and are exclusive dealers for three Canadian pharmacies in the Coachella Valley, and have developed a customer base of over 1,000 regulars.

From the WGAL Channel (Penn.):
Canadian Drugs May Not Be Canadian
Prescription drugs that come from Canada may not be Canadian at all.

The Food and Drug Administration says some of the drugs are actually made in India, the Philippines, and Thailand and are simply routed through Canada. Some women who thought they were getting a great deal on birth control patches may end up with babies instead.

From the Boston Channel:
Albano Launches Pro-Canadian Drugs Speaking Tour
Former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano is continuing to urge municipalities to buy prescription drugs from Canada.

Albano launched a six-city speaking tour in Providence this weekend that will also take him to Seattle and San Antonio.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

From Time:
Why We Pay So Much For Drugs
Helen Clark of Kennebunk, Maine, is a smuggler of sorts. At 77, the retired registered nurse doesn't look the part. She still does volunteer work—administering flu shots, cutting toenails and organizing blood drives—at the Southern Maine Medical Center, where she worked for more than four decades, first in the maternity ward and later in the operating room.
From Tech Central Station:
Milton Friedman and The Reimportation Debate
TCS sponsored a debate on the issue of prescription drug reimportation in San Francisco on January 27 moderated by TCS host James K. Glassman. What follows below is the transcript of the event.

Health Canada warns young patients to check with doctors on antidepressants
Health Canada warned Monday that anyone under 18 who is taking a newer type of antidepressant should check with their doctor to confirm "that the benefits of the drug still outweigh its potential risks" in light of recent safety concerns. The warning applies to drugs know by the acronyms SSRIs and SNRIs.
From WTOP News:
FDA Lukewarm on Reimportation
Federal and state lawmakers are clamoring for it and seniors are demanding it, but the Food and Drug Administration is decidedly lukewarm about reimporting drugs from Canada or anywhere else.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan told pharmaceutical industry officials at the recent World Health Care Congress his agency is looking at the "consequences and benefits" of reimportation and trying to figure out whether it would produce the cost savings lawmakers and seniors hope it would.

From the Globe and Mail:
Doctor's insurance group drops on-line prescription coverage
Canadian doctors who co-sign prescriptions for Americans in search of cheaper drugs can no longer count on the Canadian Medical Protective Association for help in defending themselves against legal actions.

The non-profit organization, which provides insurance for doctors, said Monday it would no longer provide coverage for a "risky activity" that has been denounced by provincial and territorial licensing bodies.
Drug offers hope for advanced Alzheimer's disease
Canadian doctors have high hopes that a new drug called memantine will help people with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.

Memantine was approved in the U.S. in October 2003 and is now being reviewed by Health Canada.

"For sure, it will greatly improve the treatment of patients in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's and will become standard treatment," says Dr. Serge Gauthier, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit of the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging in Montreal.
From the (Denver) Rocky Mountain News:
Drug retailer 'flouting' U.S. law?
Colorado regulators urged the Food and Drug Administration and the Colorado attorney general to investigate an Englewood retailer that helps consumers buy prescription drugs from Canada.

In a Monday letter, the Department of Regulatory Agencies said 2-week-old Canada Drug Service at 410 W. Hampden Ave. is "flouting federal law" and misleading consumers in a daily radio advertisement.
From CBC Manitoba:
Web pharmacists lobby U.S. governors for help
Internet pharmacists are heading south of the border to lobby U.S. state governors for help getting products from drug companies.

David McKay, head of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, will be in Washington later this month at a U.S. governors' summit on drug importation. He plans to tell the governors he needs their help to deal with large American pharmaceutical companies, some of whom are restricting the supply of drugs to Canadian companies that sell drugs to American patients.

From the Portsmouth (NH) Herald:
Drug club goes to mall
This week local entrepreneur Chris Prior is moving the Portsmouth branch of the American Drug Club, a Canadian prescription assistance center, from its 601 Islington St. office to a cart in the Fox Run Mall near the food court.

"The move will provide more foot traffic and visibility as well as more accessibility for clients than the Islington Street location," said Prior. "Being at Fox Run Mall will give the American Drug Club a better opportunity to reach many more consumers."
From AARP:
Crackdown in Canada
Americans may soon find it difficult to buy lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada if a tough new effort by Pfizer Inc. succeeds in closing off the pipeline.

In a letter sent last month to all Canadian pharmacies, Pfizer—the world's largest drugmaker—threatened to cut off all supplies of its products to any pharmacy that helps the cross-border trade.
From Montana Forum:
FDA, pharmacists launch campaign warning consumers
Pharmacy groups and the Food and Drug Administration started a campaign Wednesday to warn consumers that buying drugs from Canada can be dangerous.

The organizers cited Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s efforts to get approval to buy such drugs for state employees and retirees as a reason for the campaign.
From the Winnipeg Sun:
Net drugstores thrive
Daniel Beringer pops 19 pills a day to cope with the aftermath of a massive stroke, two heart attacks and emphysema. Between frequent naps, the 65-year-old retired construction worker putters around the small bungalow he shares with his wife and three teenage children in Waco, Texas.

The $1,500 US he collects monthly from social security and a pension allow for few luxuries.

At the neighbourhood pharmacy, Beringer's drug bill would total about $12,000 a year. By buying his medication from an Internet pharmacy in Winnipeg, however, he saves $4,000 -- and no longer has to choose which prescriptions he can afford to fill.

From the St. Joseph (Mich.) Herald Palladium:
Why not buy Canadian drugs?
Bill Gillespie's family has had a pharmacy in St. Joseph since 1905, but he fears the rising cost of drugs and the promise of lower prices that lures people across the border to Canada are jeopardizing the future of small-town pharmacies.

Judy Richards is a registered nurse who helps senior citizens at the St. Joseph/Lincoln Senior Center fill out forms to get reduced price or free medicines from pharmaceutical companies. She said she doesn't recommend that people get medicines from Canada. She fears the safety of the drugs, saying there's no way of knowing exactly where they come from. And she believes prescription orders can also take too long to arrive or get lost in the mail.

Ray Dupuis of Kalamazoo recently opened branches of the American Drug Club in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. The business connects people by mail, fax or Internet to a Canadian pharmacy that fills their original prescriptions. Dupuis said he feels good at the end of the day because he is helping people save money and take medications they might not otherwise be able to afford.

From the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press:
Canadian broker defends Rx imports
David Schioler's Canada-based American Drug Club sells prescription drugs throughout the U.S., but don't call his company a pharmacy.

"It's a marketing and educational vehicle," said the 46-year-old Winnipeg executive as he stood near his company's red and white sales booth during a health fair at Centerpointe Mall on Friday.

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
DRUGS FROM CANADA: Doyle promises Web links — maybe
The governor said Friday he'll probably redesign Wisconsin's prescription drug Web site within weeks to include links to Canadian pharmacies if the federal government doesn't go after Minnesota for offering similar services.

Minnesota's site offers links to two state-inspected Canadian pharmacies and drug order forms for each. Wisconsin's drug site doesn't contain any information on Canadian pharmacies, instead warning people that importing foreign drugs is illegal.