California Delegation Inspects Canadian Internet Pharmacies
California officials who are visiting Canada this week to inspect Manitoba's mail-order pharmacies are "poised to endorse" the Internet pharmacies as safe enough to provide drugs to state residents, the Winnipeg Free Press reports. The 12-member delegation includes county health officials, representatives from seniors' groups and aides for senators advocating the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada. In a phone interview from Sacramento, Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) said that residents were too often getting drugs from unsafe Web sites (Janzen, Winnipeg Free Press, 7/28). Ortiz earlier this year introduced a bill (SB 1149) that would establish a state Web site to direct residents to Canadian pharmacies from which they could purchase safe prescription drugs; the pharmacies would have to meet the same standards as those based in California (California Healthline, 6/17). Ortiz said that she hopes the delegation finds that the Canadian Internet pharmacies are safe enough to allow reimportation, the Free Press reports. Delegation member Gary Passmore of the Congress of California Seniors said, "I'd say (U.S.) safety standards are exceeded here. I am impressed. We will advocate for the opening of Canadian markets for seniors." AARP's Dr. Paul Smith said California residents are eager to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. The delegation will tour another Internet pharmacy in Vancouver on Thursday before returning to California, the Free Press reports.
Critics contend that U.S. demand for Canadian prescription drugs could create a shortage in Canada. David MacKay, president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, said that there are no domestic medication shortages, despite $1 billion in prescription drug sales to the United States each year. However, MacKay said that the group is seeking only a "passive" endorsement of its pharmacies from California, such as placement on a state-sponsored Web site, not a commercial agreement to supply reimported drugs to the state. Passmore said that the delegation does not want to strain the Canadian prescription drug supply, adding, "We don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg" (Janzen, Winnipeg Free Press, 7/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.