Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cross-border medicine trade back in spotlight

From the Globe and Mail:
U.S. President Barack Obama's $3.55-trillion (U.S.) budget included one sentence that could reopen a long simmering debate in Canada - how much access Americans should have to inexpensive medicines from Canada.

For years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made it difficult for Americans to import drugs from other countries, including Canada, citing concerns about safety. But that has not stopped many Internet pharmacies from sprouting up on this side of the border, offering a wide range of prescription and non-prescription drugs, usually at lower prices. Price controls and a lower dollar have kept medicine prices generally lower in Canada compared with the United States.

The Internet cross-border business has been estimated as close to $1-billion (Canadian) and peaked several years ago when the Canadian dollar traded well below 70 cents (U.S). Business has trailed off in recent years as the dollar strengthened and changes were made to some U.S. drug plans for senior citizens.

Yesterday, Mr. Obama signalled in his budget that his administration supports efforts to open up the cross-border medicine trade. One section, titled "Lower Drug Costs and Improves Food and Medical Product Safety," noted that the budget "supports the Food and Drug Administration's new efforts to allow Americans to buy safe and effective drugs from other countries." ...more

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