Monday, January 31, 2005

Manitoba premier remains hopeful Internet pharmacy compromise can be reached

From the Canadian Press:
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer remained hopeful Monday that a federal crackdown on the Internet pharmacy industry can be averted, but he acknowledged his government has prepared for the worst.

Doer said he and federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh are on the same page when it comes to making sure Canadians have enough prescription drugs. But he said he believes a compromise can be found that will let the industry flourish, keeping an estimated 2,500 jobs in Manitoba, while setting rules to control the flow of cheaper Canadian drugs to underinsured and uninsured Americans. more...

Montgomery County seeking cheaper prescription drugs Washington Business Journal

From the Washington Business Journal:
Montgomery County officials on Monday released a request for proposals to American and Canadian drug distributors to bid on the program that county lawmakers approved in September, which would give government employees and retirees the option of buying cheaper prescription medications from Canada or other foreign countries. more...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pharmacist's Warning: Plan to license Canadian pharmacies may have adverse side effects

From the Coventry (RI) Courier:
The new state law allowing for the licensure of Canadian pharmacies in Rhode Island has gone into effect but according to some, the side effects may be worse than the high prescription prices.

Approved by the General Assembly in July 2004, the law permits Canadian pharmacies to obtain a license from the state, meaning that each applicant facility would undergo an inspection to ensure they meet the Rhode Island Department of Health's safety requirements. imore...

City to offer Canadian prescription-drug plan

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
In a move expected to save a substantial amount of money, the city is partnering with a Canadian prescription service to enable current and retired city employees to buy their prescription drugs from north of the border.

Mayor Scott Avedisian announced the initiative this week, saying that about 1,500 past and present municipal workers will now have the option of buying their prescription drugs from Canada. more...

Canadian drug cutoff could shift markets

From the Billings (MT) Gazette:
If Canada clamps down on the Internet pharmaceutical market, online shoppers will likely start surfing the rest of the world for cheaper drugs, predicts one local business owner.

Tom Kennedy, owner of Canadian Connection, a Billings business that helps Montanans link up to a pharmacy north of the border, is not so sure rumblings from Canada will come to fruition. But if they do, he expects to see a major shift in the pharmaceutical market. more...

FDA letter warns state on licensing Canadian drugs

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday wrote to Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch detailing the ways in which the state's new law allowing licensing of Canadian pharmacies violates federal law.

The six-page letter is the FDA's first communication with the state since it urged Governor Carcieri to veto the bill.

The letter provides a legal framework for opposing the law but does not explicitly urge Lynch to act, nor does it say what the FDA plans to do. more...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Important safety information for patients taking Lariam (mefloquine) for the prevention of malaria

From Health Canada:
Hoffmann-La Roche Limited would like to inform patients of updated safety information in the Patient Information leaflet for Lariam® (mefloquine), a medication prescribed to prevent infection with malaria. more...

Canadian pharmaceutical case in judge's hands

From the Mason City (Iowa) Globe Gazette:
Canadian Outlet, which facilitates orders of prescription drugs from Canada, is designed to avoid state regulations while importing drugs, Iowa Assistant Attorney General Scott Galenbeck said Wednesday in Cerro Gordo County District Court.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examiners is attempting to close the business at 1527 S. Monroe Ave. through a cessation of services injunction against its owners, Scot and Cheryl Huff. more...

Drug reimportation from Canada draws opposition

From the Billings (MT) Gazette:
Montanans need cheaper prescription medications, but putting consumers and local pharmacies at risk by authorizing drug imports from Canada is not the answer, pharmacists and retail groups told a House committee Thursday.

The state would oversee such sales under House Bill 364, sponsored by Rep. Rick Maedje, R-Fortine, which proposes setting up a Web site to help residents buy cheaper drugs from Canadian pharmacies. State pharmacies would also be allowed to buy medications in bulk under the bill. more...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

U.S. lawmakers push for prescription drugs from Canada

From the Globe and Mail:
U.S. legislators introduced two bills Wednesday to legalize prescription drug imports from Canada amid a Senate hearing on risks and benefits of the cross-border trade.

Eight U.S. representatives and senators, including five Republicans, are backing legislation in the House of Representatives. Another bill in the Senate is supported by five Republicans. more...

Washington state legislators promote drug purchases from Canada

From the Canadian Press:
Legislators looked north Tuesday for a solution to the rising cost of prescription drugs, considering several bills aimed at making it easier for people and state agencies to buy lower-priced medication from Canada. more...

Vioxx took deadly toll: study

From the Globe and Mail:
Vioxx, the blockbuster arthritis and pain medication pulled off the market last September, could have killed more than 40,000 people in the United States, according to an FDA scientist who has said his employer silenced his earlier warnings about the drug's safety. more...

Dosanjh is ready to return his attention to Internet pharmacy debate

From the Canadian Press:
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said Tuesday he could decide within the next month whether to crack down on Internet pharmacies.

Dosanjh, who returned to Canada last weekend from a month-long tour of tsunami-ravaged Asia, said he needs to be briefed by his officials in Ottawa next week on three options he has been weighing since the fall. The options involve changes to federal law aimed at ensuring the supply of prescription drugs for Canadians and protecting the federally regulated pricing system that makes some drugs a significant bargain for uninsured or underinsured Americans. more...

Monday, January 24, 2005

State panel recommends importing prescriptions

From the Houston Chronicle:
Concerned about the impact of rising drug costs on a tight state budget, the Legislature's financial arm is recommending that officials study the possibility of importing prescription drugs from Canada or another foreign country.

State taxpayers, public employees and beneficiaries of public assistance programs could save as much as $898 million in drug costs over the next two years if the state had an import option, the Legislative Budget Board estimates. more...

State: Orders make business a pharmacy

From the Des Moines (Iowa) Register:
A Mason City businessman who helps people buy discount medicine from Canada is set to appear in court Tuesday to fight allegations that he is running an illegal pharmacy.

State regulators have asked a judge to shut down Canadian Outlet, which they say is essentially an unlicensed drugstore.

Its owner, real estate agent Scot Huff, denies the allegations. Huff said he simply helps Iowans order drugs from Canada, where government regulations keep prices low on many brand-name medicines. more...

Former U.S. envoy to Canada wades into Internet pharmacy debate

From the Canadian Press:
A former U.S. ambassador to Canada has turned lobbyist to help brand-name drug makers battle Canada's flourishing cross-border Internet pharmacy business.

While Gordon Giffin's private sector activities were defended in diplomatic and business circles Wednesday, a U.S. ethics watchdog questioned a former ambassador "cashing in so directly" on such a highly charged issue. Giffin, the U.S. ambassador in Ottawa from 1997 to 2001, is listed on the federal government's lobbyist registry as having worked since December 2002 on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. more...

Health Canada Endorsed Important Preliminary Safety Information Regarding REMINYL (galantamine)

From Health Canada:
Subject: Preliminary Safety Information from investigational studies with REMINYL* (galantamine) in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Canada considers getting out of drug export business

From the Kansas City Star:
Talk about an international drug trade.

Mary Lou Immenschuh gets her prescriptions from Canada. That's where Jim Everett gets his Lipitor, and where Richard Napper gets his arthritis pills.

“I take six a day,” said Napper, of Raymore. “They cost $1.50 in the U.S. I get them from Canada for 65 cents.”

The pills come in the mail, the same prescription he could get at the local pharmacy. Same pills, same drug manufacturer, same packaging. Different price. more...

Trial set for man who helped import drugs

From the Quad-City (Iowa) Times:
A businessman who helps people buy discount medicine from Canada is slated to go on trial this week on the state’s allegations that he is running an illegal pharmacy.

State regulators have asked a judge to shut down Canadian Outlet, which they say is essentially an unlicensed drug store.

It’s owner, real estate agent Scot Huff of Mason City, denies the allegation. more...

E.P. looks to break ground for Canada

From the Pawtucket (RI) Times:
Rolland Grant estimates that about 3,000 people in East Providence already purchase prescription drugs from Canada, either through the mail or by taking bus trips across the border.

If he has his way, they will soon have an outlet they can go to in East Providence to do the same thing. more...

U.S. governors want Martin's ear on 'life and death' Internet pharmacy issue

From the Canadian Press:
Six U.S. governors eager to keep cheap Canadian drugs flowing freely across the border want to take their pitch directly to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

In a letter sent to Martin on Wednesday, the governors say they want to meet Martin in Ottawa as soon as possible to head off a much-anticipated government crackdown they fear could come within a few weeks. The group, spearheaded by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, says restricting the $1-billion trade could be disastrous for the estimated two million Americans shopping at mail-order pharmacies. more...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Merck cuts off some Canadian pharmacies

From CBS Marketwatch:
Drug giant Merck & Co. will reportedly cut off shipments to certain Canadian pharmacies it claims have been shipping lower-priced Merck drugs to American customers.

According to the Associated Press, Merck has sent letters to several Canadian pharmacies informing them that they will not be supplied unless they can prove to the drugmaker's Canadian subsidiary, Merck Frosst, that they are no longer shipping drugs to U.S consumers. more...

Lawmakers weigh prescription drug importation

From the New Britain (CT) Herald:
Connecticut lawmakers are thinking about relying on Canada and Europe in their search for cheaper prescription drugs.

However, some medical experts view this as a potentially dangerous option.

The legislature’s public health committee is weighing a bill that would create a system for obtaining lower-priced medications from other countries for state residents, placing Connecticut on a path already being followed by other states. more...

Dot-drug MD guilty of misconduct

From the Toronto Star:
A Toronto doctor is guilty of professional misconduct for co-signing thousands of prescriptions for U.S. citizens so they could be filled by an Ontario pharmacy, a disciplinary panel of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has ruled.

Dr. Stanley Gore, 56, co-signed 24,212 prescriptions for U.S. citizens who were not his patients over the 6 1/2 months he worked for Canadian Drug Store Inc., an Internet prescribing service. more...

Canadian drug import law goes into effect

From the Boston Globe:
The law allowing residents to buy cheaper prescriptions from Canada went into effect Wednesday, despite federal regulations banning drug importation.

Health Department officials said the state has received one inquiry but no formal license applications from any Canadian pharmacies, which under the new law may be approved to sell medications to residents through the mail or by private shipper. more...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Canadian drug law in effect today

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
The law empowering Rhode Island to license Canadian pharmacies goes into effect today, but that doesn't mean the floodgates will suddenly open to a new supply of medications from Canada.

For one thing, many Rhode Islanders are already ordering less-expensive drugs by mail from Canada, or buying them at a storefront operation in Warwick.

For another, today's effective date merely starts the weeks-long application process for prospective licensees. more...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Pharmacy cig sales mixed message

From the Winnipeg Sun:
An anti-smoking group is urging the province to crack down on the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies. Dr. Mark Taylor, chairman of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA), said yesterday it sends the wrong message to allow pharmacies to sell tobacco products.

"Kids hear how dangerous tobacco is, then they go to the pharmacy to get medications to make them better and at the front of the pharmacy, in full view, are mountains of cigarettes," said Taylor, whose group yesterday released its third annual Manitoba tobacco control report card. "It's clearly a hypocritical message." more...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Simpsons cross border into Manitoba seeking cheap Canadian drugs

From Macleans:
Seeking cheap Canadian prescription drugs, Homer Simpson crossed the border into Manitoba Sunday night.

The affable cartoon character was welcomed to Winnipeg - a city known for its booming cross-border Internet pharmacy industry - with a sign that read "We were born here, what's your excuse?" With his father Abraham, Ned Flanders and Apu in tow, Homer loads up his vehicle with a plethora of pills at a Canadian pharmacy to deliver to residents of Springfield, starved of drugs after the city's employers eliminated health-care plans. more...

Canadian government may close Internet pharmacy pipeline

From the Laconia (NH) Citizen:
Diane Lefebvre of Rochester has always feared that the affordable prescription drugs that she has been buying from a Canadian mail-order pharmacy wouldn’t last forever.

Sooner or later, Lefebvre worried the same big pharmaceutical companies that forced millions of seniors like herself to go north of the border to buy medicine would get their way.

"I thought something would interfere with it eventually," Lefebvre said. Now, that may be about to happen. more...

State may look to Europe for drugs

From the Duluth News Tribune:
With the threat of losing Canada as a source of cheaper prescription drugs for about 2 million Americans, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and others are looking to Europe to fill the void.

But that's more complicated than it sounds. Pharmacy regulations vary from country to country, exchange rates are unfavorable and it's not easy for state inspectors to visit suppliers across the ocean.

"It's easier to drive up to Winnipeg than it would be to run over to London," said Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno, Pawlenty's point man for, the state Web site that helps residents purchase Canadian medications. more...

Doer wants 'more informed debate' on Internet pharmacy in Ottawa

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer is calling for "a more informed debate" around the federal cabinet table in a bid to halt a widely anticipated crackdown on Internet pharmacies.

Doer emerged from a meeting Monday with industry representatives with a plan to ask Treasury Board Minister Reg Alcock, Manitoba's cabinet representative, to lobby his colleagues on behalf of the industry. more...

U.S. Looks to Europe for Drug Sales

From the Washington Post:
U.S. states looking to Canada for steep discounts on prescription drug prices are increasingly turning to Europe for deals now that the Canadian government is considering shutting off the southbound flow.

Illinois and three other states already help their residents buy prescriptions from such places as the United Kingdom and Ireland, a process dubbed reimportation because many of the drugs are made in the United States. The new Democratic majorities in the Vermont Legislature now want to join the club. more...

Drug firms challenge sales from Canada

From the Detroit Free Press:
Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co., Novartis AG and five other drugmakers, which are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit, challenged the right of U.S. consumers to buy less expensive medicines from Canada for personal use.

The federal law that limits importing of medicines from abroad includes individual purchases, the drugmakers told U.S. Magistrate Jonathan G. Lebedoff in Minneapolis today. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which warns the medicines may not be safe, hasn't enforced the limit on individuals' purchases. more...

Americans devising ways to lower drug costs as Canada balks at exports

From CBC News:
As Canada considers restricting exports of cheap prescription drugs, Americans are devising other ways to lower their costs.

Even the big drug companies are getting into the act. Ten major manufacturers launched ads this week touting new discount cards covering 275 brand-name drugs for many of the 45 million people who don't have health insurance. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which opposes imports, is asking for more money this year to speed the approval process for generic medicines, which takes an average 20 months after companies submit proposals. more...

Doer fights crackdown on Internet pharmacies

From the Globe and Mail:
The federal government's threatened crackdown on Internet pharmacies could exceed Ottawa's jurisdiction, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said yesterday, promising to stand in defence of the controversial industry.

Mr. Doer met with Internet pharmacy officials yesterday to talk about how to respond to a suggestion last month from Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh that Ottawa wants new regulations restricting cross-border trade. more...

Americans Could Lose Access to Canadian Drugs

Americans who stretch their budgets by purchasing lower-cost prescriptions from Canada could see those savings vanish.

Canadian health officials are considering measures to restrict that country's Internet pharmacy trade in the United States, a move that would force 1.8 million Americans to look elsewhere for lower-priced medications.

Several states and municipalities have established programs to help citizens gain access to lower-cost prescriptions from Canada. One program, I-SaveRx -- a four-state program initiated by Illinois -- also includes pharmacies in Great Britain and Ireland. Some believe a Canadian import ban would foster similar agreements with western European nations to supply U.S. consumers. more...

Savings Uncertain In Import Drug Plan

From the Washington Post:
Montgomery County's plans to make Canadian prescription drugs available to employees has hit a snag after an analysis by the school system concluded that the practice wouldn't save as much money as hoped and could be more expensive than domestic sources for drugs.

County officials said they will continue to work on implementing an imported drug benefit for 85,000 employees, retirees and dependents, as approved by the County Council in September. But they acknowledged that shifting economic conditions -- most notably a weakening U.S. dollar -- may diminish the advantages of the plan. more...

Canadian Drug Halt Looms; Illinois, Montana Seek New Sources

From Bloomberg:
Canada may restrict the ability of Americans to buy cheaper drugs by mail, prompting Illinois, Rhode Island, Montana and other states to seek new suppliers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh plans by early February to seek cabinet approval of rules that would bar Canadian doctors from prescribing drugs for patients they haven't seen, spokesman Ken Polk said. Government controls keep Canadian prices as much as 70 percent lower than in the U.S. more...

Are prescriptions filled in Canada safe? - Insure your health

From MSN Money:
It started with modest troops of silver-haired bus-trippers crossing the border into Canada to save 30% or more on Pravachol and Prevacid. Illegal, yes, but who would begrudge Granny's trying to keep her medicines affordable? Now it's escalated into a full-scale election-year war involving people of all ages attempting to save on medicines of all kinds. Seniors’ groups, mayors, governors and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are pressing to legalize what an estimated 1 million Americans are already doing openly -- filling millions of prescriptions a year north of the border more...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Stimulant pill use doubles in 5 years

From the Montreal Gazette:
When high school ends for the day, Jeremy Goldberg tries to finish his homework quickly, before the effects of the methylphenidate pill he takes each morning wear off.

By evening, the Grade 8 student at Riverdale High School in Pierrefonds has difficulty concentrating. more...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Canadian net pharmacies wait for dotcom diagnosis

From the (London, UK) Register:
Canada's thriving online drugs industry could be forced to swallow a bitter pill if the Government proceeds with plans to choke the sale of prescription drugs to the US.

Last year, Some C$1bn (£435m) of prescription drugs are sold to US patients, who are keen to pocket the discounts offered by Canada's drug etailers more...

Canada drug plan pays off

From the Albany (NY) Times Union:
Schenectady County's first-in-the-state municipal Canadian prescription drug plan is under way with more than 400 county workers now signed up to buy lower-cost medicines from a Canadian pharmacy.

County officials said more than half the eligible workers have enrolled since Dec. 1. But launch of the prescription system has not been without problems, including applications being mailed back to employees because of inadequate postage. It costs 60 cents to mail a letter to Canada more...

Advocates fear loss of drugs from Canada

From the Asbury Park (NJ) Press:
Canadian officials are considering ways to curtail the prescription drug trade with the United States, a move that could affect thousands of seniors in the Shore area and millions nationwide.

"The fix is in," said Robert W. Hoebee, 75, of Lacey, a marketing agent for Canadian Prescription Drugs Inc. of Belleville, Ontario, one of more than 200 Internet pharmacies exporting prescription medication into the U.S.

Monday, January 10, 2005

From the Financial Times:
Canada's online drug dispensaries mull UK shift
Canada's online pharmacies are prepared to move to Britain if the federal government follows through on proposals that would in effect put them out of business.

Almost all of the members of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association have contingency plans to move overseas, "mostly in Great Britain", said David MacKay, executive director of the lobby for the web pharmacies.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

From the Holland (Mich.) Sentinel:
Business that provides pipeline to Canadian drugs opens
The owner of a new pharmacy service in Zeeland said she took more than 20 orders for Canadian prescription drugs on her first day of business Tuesday.

Elizabeth Gordon of Byron Center opened her business a week after a Canadian Health Minister threatened to shut off exports to the United States but says she is not concerned.
From the (Madison, Wisc.) Capital Times:
Drug cutoff opposed
Three County Board supervisors are appealing to Gov. Jim Doyle and Wisconsin's representatives in Washington to help prevent Canada from shutting off the cheap prescription drug pipeline to America.

"Canadian drug exporters feel a gun is being held to their head," said Supervisor Dave de Felice of Madison, referring to a possible decision by the Canadian prime minister's Cabinet next week to halt export of prescription drugs to America, mainly because Canadian doctors co-sign for American prescriptions for patients they haven't examined.
From WIS-TV (SC):
Regulation would end drugs from Canada
More than two million Americans buy drugs from Canada either in bus caravans across the border or over the Internet.

But, those sales could come to a halt in the next few weeks if Canada's health minister follows through on plans to prohibit Canadian doctors from co-signing prescriptions for American patients they have not personally examined.
From the Washington Times:
Pharmacist shortage seen rising in U.S.
Next year's implementation of a new Medicare drug benefit is expected to increase the nation's demand for pharmacists, who already are in short supply.

About 230,000 pharmacists were employed in 2002, and 25,000 more will be needed by 2012, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Editor's Note: Not specifically related to Canadian pharmacy, but this article reminds us that there is a worldwide pharmacist shortage. It also makes one wonder why American pharmacists are so worried that Canadian pharmacies will put them out of a job.)
From Macleans:
New drug treats advanced Alzheimer's disease
A recently approved drug for Alzheimer's disease slows the progression of the moderate to severe forms of the disease, and may take some of the pressure off people caring for loved ones with the devastating dementia.

The drug, called memantine (brand name Ebixa), is the first that Health Canada has approved for the later stages of Alzheimer's disease.

"We feel that we have a drug now for the moderate to severe stages of the disease which has merit, which will be useful for patients and families," says Dr. Sharon Cohen, a behavioural neurologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

From the Winnipeg Sun:
Squeezing on the sun
One Internet pharmacy operator is keeping his sunny side up in the face of federal opposition. With Ottawa threatening to crack down on the sale of Canadian drugs to American patients, Jason Kozier is diversifying into tanning lotions.

The Winnipegger is using profits from his United RX Savings pharmacy in Scottsdale, Ariz., to finance what he calls Canada's first line of indoor tanning products.

Friday, January 07, 2005

From the Washington Post:
Bush Accused of Influencing Canada on Drug Exports
The Canadian health minister plans to restrict the supply of inexpensive prescription drugs shipped to about 2 million patients in the United States each year, and industry officials here are saying President Bush is behind the move.

Bush "is getting Canada to do the dirty work" of shutting down a cheap supply of foreign-made drugs that are popular with American consumers but unpopular with U.S. drug companies, charged David MacKay, executive director of an association of Canadian mail-order pharmacies.
From the Hinton (AB) Parklander:
Local pharmacy linked to provincial system
Timely access to patient information is important in the health services business, and a local pharmacy just linked with a province wide system that will make that access easier.

King Value Drug Mart, in the valley, hooked up to an expanding Alberta Electronic Health Record (EHR) system in mid-December. It is expected that EHR - which began linking hospital, doctor and pharmacy records in the fall of 2003 - should have most doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies linked by the end of 2005.
From the Chicago Sun Times:
Blagojevich asks Bush for help with Canada drugs
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sent a letter to President Bush on Wednesday asking him to discourage Canada from prohibiting selling cheaper prescription drugs to Americans.

Last year, Blagojevich and Doyle launched I-SaveRx, a multistate program to import cheaper prescription drugs from Europe and Canada. The program uses a Canada-based clearinghouse to connect residents of Illinois, Wisconsin and other states to pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It claims to save residents up to 50 percent on about 100 prescription drugs.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

From the Boston Globe:
Springfield worries about possible crackdown on Canadian drug sales
Threats by Canadian officials to clamp down on prescription drug sales to Americans has officials in this cash-strapped city worried that health care costs could jump millions of dollars.

Springfield has saved about $4 million since it became the first U.S. city to buy cheaper prescription drugs for its employees and retirees from Canada in July 2003.

With the city facing an estimated $24 million budget deficit and its finances under the control of a state-appointed board, absorbing the increased costs for prescription drugs could be devastating.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Pawlenty: Canada won't ban cross-border drug sales immediately
Canada isn't poised to ban prescription drug sales outside its borders immediately, a move that would cut off access to cheaper medications for more than 2 million Americans, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday. A ban still might come later, he said.

"We are temporarily relieved that a decision is not imminent," Pawlenty said at a news conference following a meeting with a Canadian consulate official. "That buys us a little more time."

Pawlenty, whose Web site helps Minnesotans buy cheaper drugs from Canadian pharmacies, plans to lobby Congress and the Canadian government to allow drug reimportation to continue. He's also exploring the possibility of getting cheaper prescription medications from Europe, including Britain, Scandinavia and Switzerland.
Savings for Americans purchasing drugs from Canada fell last year
Americans buying their drugs from Canadian online pharmacies didn't save as much money last year as they did in 2003, with the average discount dropping to 29 per cent from 38 per cent, a new study has found.

The average drug price on Canadian Internet pharmacies rose 23 per cent from the first quarter of 2003 until the end of last year. Meanwhile, drug prices at American online pharmacies rose eight per cent, according to, which tracks Internet pharmacy prices and released the study.
From the Boston Globe:
State OKs drug imports from Canada
The state Health Department has approved regulations allowing Rhode Island to license Canadian pharmacies, making the state the first in the nation to take such a step to help seniors get cheaper prescription drugs.

The new regulations were filed Thursday at the secretary of state's office and will take effect in 20 days. Barring a legal challenge, their approval means Rhode Island residents will be able to import through the mail or by private shipper prescription medications from Canada by the end of January.

From the Providence (RI) Journal:
State OKs drugs from Canada
Following an animated final public hearing, the state Health Department yesterday approved regulations allowing the state to license Canadian pharmacies. Rhode Island is the first state to take this step.

Barring a legal challenge, Rhode Island residents will be able to import prescription medications -- through the mail or by private shipper -- starting next month.

Safety and cost dominated the hearing at the Health Department's main auditorium. About 100 people attended, including dozens of older people, pharmacists and representatives of the U.S. drug industry.
From the Nashua (NH) Telegraph:
What’s next for state’s Rx links?
A state-sponsored Web page that offers links to Canadian pharmacies had more than 18,000 visits in the months following its inception last year.

Of those 18,810 visitors, 820 of them bought prescriptions from one of the featured pharmacies north of the border,, according to the governor’s office and the Winnipeg-based company.

The governor’s office did not provide statistics on the state’s other link to a Canadian pharmacy,, and the company’s top executive did not return several phone calls seeking comment on sales.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

From the Houston Chronicle:
Bill would let Texans import medications
Many Texans for years have sought cheaper prescription drugs by crossing the border into Mexico, an option often considered unsafe and inconvenient except for those living close to the Rio Grande.

Now, importing less-expensive prescription drugs could move from Mexico to the mailbox under a bill filed by state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston. It would let Texas consumers order prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
Pawlenty lobbies Canada to keep drug export rules
Gov. Tim Pawlenty called on the Canadian government Friday not to "slam the door on American consumers" by changing rules that would restrict the export of less-expensive drugs to the United States.

Pawlenty made his plea in a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin in response to news reports that Canada was considering a policy that would prevent Americans from receiving Canadian drugs without an examination by a Canadian physician. Previously, Pawlenty feared the U.S. government would restrict the importation of Canadian drugs. In a June 18 letter, he and seven other governors asked congressional leaders not to restrict importation.
From the (Madison, Wisc.) Capital Times:
Canada Rx ban would hurt
Many Wisconsin residents, especially senior citizens, would be affected and upset if Canada halts mail order drug prescriptions, officials here said.

That possibility has been raised with Canadian Health Minster Ujjai Dosanjh's tough new stance on Internet drug sales to Americans. In recent weeks he has said he may prevent Canadian doctors from co-signing prescriptions unless they have actually examined the patients.

In a published report Wednesday, David Kay, of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, said "there's a very real chance that by the middle of January drugs will not flow from Canada anymore."

From Forbes:
Vioxx, Celebrex Furor Tops Health News for '04
For years, Americans turned to the blockbuster drugs Vioxx and Celebrex for relief from chronic pain. But as 2004 ends, Vioxx is no longer on the market and the future of Celebrex remains unclear.

The tattered reputation of the cox-2 inhibitor class of analgesics not only left millions without their preferred method of pain relief, it also prompted criticism of the role -- even the integrity -- of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, making the drug debacle the year's top health news story.
From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:
Canada may ban mail-order drugs, cutting off access to Americans
Canada may ban mail-order prescription drug sales to U.S. customers, cutting off access to cheaper medicines for about 2 million Americans.

The move could stymie, the state Web site created by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a vocal advocate for purchasing drugs from Canada at lower prices.

Pawlenty said he will consider finding suppliers "from European countries with safe pharmacy systems" to fill prescriptions for the Web site if the Canadian mail-order ban happens.
From the Portland (OR) Tribune:
City looks north for cheaper drugs
The city of Portland already has saved more than $40,000 through its new, controversial — and illegal — program to import prescription drugs from Canada.

Portland, Maine, that is.

Our East Coast namesake is one of seven municipalities (along with 13 states) that either offer employees prescription drugs from Canada or plan to soon. The West Coast Portland took its first step toward joining the prescription revolt last week by directing human resources officials to look into how such a plan could work here, and how much money it could save.
From the Pawtucket (RI) Times:
Closer to the border
Rhode Islanders may soon be able to purchase cheaper prescription drugs from Canada without leaving the Ocean State.

The state Department of Health approved new regulations Thursday that will allow the licensing of Canadian pharmacies to do business in Rhode Island, implementing a law passed unanimously by both chambers of the General Assembly earlier this year.

The new regulations will be in effect by Jan. 20, said Don Williams, DOH’s assistant director for health services regulation, "unless someone enjoins us or goes to court."
From the Montreal Gazette:
Women warned against popular birth-control drug
Canadian women should stop using Depo-Provera for birth control until more investigation into the controversial contraceptive is done, a Canadian drug expert says.

Health Canada documents show Depo-Provera, a birth-control shot its makers recently warned might cause permanent bone loss, is suspected of causing serious drug reactions in hundreds of Canadian women. Nearly 629,000 prescriptions were filled for the injected contraceptive in Canada in the 12-month period ending October, double the 304,000 prescriptions dispensed in 1999.