Thursday, April 21, 2005

Former FDA Chief Backs Drug Import Bill

From Reuters:
Importation of prescription drugs is so rampant that the U.S. government needs to make the practice legal and provide safeguards to keep people from unknowingly taking dangerous medicines, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on Tuesday.

"The current system is out of control," Dr. David Kessler, FDA chief from 1990 to 1997, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at a hearing. ...more

Health Canada approves non-prescription sales of 'morning-after' pill

From the Canadian Press:
Women throughout Canada should soon have access to the so-called morning-after pill without having first to obtain a prescription from their doctor.

The order-in-council stripping prescription-only status from the drug, levonorgestrel, was signed Tuesday, making way for pharmacies across the country to dispense the drug from behind the counter. ...more

Health Biz: Drug importation moves closer

From the Washington Times:
More signs point to drug-importation legislation making it through this session of Congress -- but it is not a sure thing. Concerns over safety remain among Republicans, even as the political pieces are falling into place for a bill to reach President Bush's desk.

Republicans slowly have moved to support legalized importation, which Democrats latched onto after they lost control of the Medicare prescription-drug movement to President Bush, who now claims the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 as a domestic-policy centerpiece. ...more

Monday, April 18, 2005

Legal delays to protecting seniors from drug reactions, minister says

From CBC News:
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh has unveiled plans to better protect Canadians from adverse drug reactions, but so far has nothing specific in mind for seniors.

The CBC reported last week that seniors account for 44 per cent of adverse drug reactions causing death, even though they represent just 13 per cent of the population. As many as 16,500 elderly patients may have died due to drug reactions in the last five years. ...more

Canadian Rx deal runs cold

From the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News:
When the mayor unveiled his Canadian prescription drug program last October, he predicted it would save the city between $500,000 and $1 million during the course of the year.

Six months into the program, the city has saved only about $20,000, Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. said recently.

"It hasn’t cost the city a dime, and to date it has saved the city about $20,000," Lambert said. "We haven’t spent any money putting it into effect and we have a cost savings." ...more

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Dorgan prepares for hearing on drug imports - - Minot Daily News

From the Minot (N.Dak.) Daily News:
With a hearing looming on his drug importation bill, U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is scoffing at a new poll showing that 69 percent of American seniors oppose importing prescription medicine.

"It's just a sham," Dorgan said. "This, I think, is a pharmaceutical industry buying a pollster for the purpose of getting the answers they want."

Dorgan's bill is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday before the Senate's Health, Education and Labor Committee. He said supporters will be pushing for a Senate vote soon afterwards. ...more

Dosanjh promises action to protect seniors from drug reactions

From CBC News:
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh says his department will try to do more to protect seniors from serious drug reactions that kill as many as 3,300 older Canadians every year.

Reacting to a CBC News series outlining adverse reactions to drugs prescribed for seniors to treat depression, anxiety and dementia, among other health issues, Dosanjh made three promises: ...more

Pfizer, Wyeth, Lilly Holders to Vote on Canadian Drug Imports

Pfizer Inc., Wyeth and Eli Lilly & Co. shareholders are being asked by pension funds to take sides in the growing debate over importing cheaper drugs from Canada.

Retirement programs in New York, Ohio, Minnesota and Vermont urged in a shareholder resolution that the Lilly board reverse a company policy of limiting Canadian shipments to the U.S. At the annual meeting April 18, holders also will vote on a request for information on the policy's financial and legal implications. Wyeth and Pfizer face similar initiatives. ...more

Thursday, April 14, 2005

How free drugs end up in the wrong hands

The federal government spends tens of millions of dollars more than necessary each year on prescription drug benefits for native Canadians, and fuels an epidemic of abuse and addiction among First Nations patients in the process.

Health Canada spends about $430 million a year on drug benefits for uninsured Canadians. The bulk of that -- almost $300 million -- is spent on prescription drugs for natives. The federal Auditor General estimates up to a million of prescriptions filled under the program each year are fraudulent. ...more

Hundreds of lawsuits expected over Vioxx

From CBC News:
A law firm in Windsor, Ont., says it is being inundated with requests for legal help from people who took the arthritis drug Vioxx, which was pulled off the shelves over heart disease risks.

The drug's manufacturer, Merck & Co., withdrew the drug from the market in September because of evidence it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. ...more

Monday, April 11, 2005

U.S. report warns of terror and health risks with prescription drug imports

From the Canadian Press:
Prescription drug imports from Canada and elsewhere could become a tool for terrorists and efforts to legalize them should stop now, said a report Monday from former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The report, commissioned by drug companies that lose big profits on the cheaper imports, noted Canadian Internet pharmacies are filling U.S. prescriptions with medicines from foreign countries and counterfeit drug cases are rising. ...more

Who should take anti-cholesterol drugs? Study says guidelines need overhaul

From the Canadian Press:
As if making sense of ideal versus risky cholesterol levels isn't confusing enough for Canadians, now some doctors are fighting over whether the latest national guidelines for prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs need an overhaul.

Researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences say the guidelines for physicians, updated in 2003 from those three years earlier, could lead to hundreds of thousands of people at low risk for heart disease taking the drugs with little or no benefit. ...more

Plan B® Soon Available To NS Women Without Prescription

From Halifax Live:
Emergency contraception will soon be available to women across Nova Scotia following Health Canada's recommendation for the removal of the PlanB® contraceptive pill from Schedule F which is the official listing of prescription drugs approved for use in Canada. ...more

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Examines News Coverage of Prescription Drug Reimportation Developments in 3 US States

From Medical News Today:
Kansas: State Attorney General Phill Kline (R) last week issued a nonbinding legal opinion that states... I-Save RX -- a multistate program that Kansas joined to allow state residents to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs from other nations -- does not violate state law, the AP/Topeka Capital-Journal reports (Hanna, AP/Topeka Capital-Journal, 4/5). ...more

Friday, April 08, 2005

Minnesota fund takes Canadian drug issue to shareholders

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Shareholders of three of the nation's largest drug companies will vote later this month on a state-sponsored resolution calling on the companies to quit restricting supplies to Canadian pharmacies that fill orders for Americans.

The largely symbolic votes arise from a push by the Minnesota Board of Investment, which is chaired by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who created the nation's first state-sponsored Web site to help residents import cheaper medications from Canada. ...more

The Globe and Mail: Ontario drug scheme assailed by groups

From the Globe and Mail:
Seniors and health-care activists lobbied the Ontario government yesterday to drop a cost-saving scheme they say will force people covered by the province's $3.1-billion drug plan to switch to cheaper prescription medications.

"What these policies do is force the doctor to have to prescribe something against their best judgment," said Gail Attara, executive director of the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. ...more

Canada joins U.S., European regulators asking Pfizer to halt Bextra sales

From CBC News:
The class of drugs known as cox-2 inhibitors took another major hit Thursday as regulatory agencies in the United States and the European Union asked pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to withdraw Bextra, its eighth-best seller globally, from the market.

Health Canada followed with a temporary suspension while it completes a review of the drug that could lead to the same conclusion.

"In Canada, since there is that voluntary withdrawal in the States, we feel that while we complete our own evaluation about this specific topic, it's the best thing to withdraw the product temporarily. And the manufacturer has agreed to that," Dr. Marc Berthiaume, Health Canada's manager of marketed pharmaceuticals, said during a media teleconference. ...more

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Canadians spending more for drugs: report

From CBC News:
Canadians are expected to spend $21.8 billion on prescription and non-prescription drugs in 2004, up nearly nine per cent from the previous year, a new report shows.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released the report on total drug expenditures per person on Tuesday

The amount for last year was expected to reach $681 per capita, although final numbers for 2003-04 are still being added up. ...more

Monday, April 04, 2005

Druggists criticize plan to reimport

From the Portsmouth (NH) Herald:
Maine pharmacists and their Canadian counterparts on Wednesday questioned prescription drug reimportation plans in Maine, saying they will hurt Canadian druggists and pose a safety threat to consumers.

The Maine Pharmacy Association and Ontario Pharmacists’ Association said drugs purchased from foreign sources pose safety risks. ...more

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pfizer, Canadian Pharmacies Take Drug-Import Battle to Europe

Canadian pharmacist Daren Jorgenson travels to Europe once a month trying to expand the secret network of 60 suppliers that helps him sell discount drugs to U.S. customers. Pfizer Inc. wants the trade to stop.

Jorgenson, 37, owns, one of his country's biggest online pharmacies. After Pfizer, Merck & Co., AstraZeneca Plc and Eli Lilly & Co. halted shipments to about 75 Canadian pharmacies that export to the U.S., Jorgenson and others turned to Europe, opening a new front in their cross-border battle. ...more

Friday, April 01, 2005

Prince George's Officials Want Canadian Drugs

From WTOP (Wash.):
Some Prince George's County lawmakers want the county to look at buying prescription drugs from Canada in an effort to save money.

The Examiner reports two members of the County Council introduced a resolution Tuesday that would create a task force to study the matter.

If approved, an 11 member task force made up of pharmaceutical, health and benefits experts would study the pros and cons.

Montgomery County lawmakers have already approved legislation that allows for the import of prescription drugs for its employees and retirees from Canada. ...more