Increased Number of Canadian Pharmacies Target U.S. Hispanics With Advertisements
Canadian pharmacies, which sell lower-cost prescription drugs to U.S. residents and have online sales of $1 billion annually, have begun "setting their sights" on Hispanics and other minority populations in the United States, the Boston Globe reports. "Everyone targets the seniors, but there are other populations there who have no insurance," Robert Becker, a pharmacist at Nexus Drugstore in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said. About 34% of U.S. Hispanics lack health insurance, compared with 21% of African Americans and 13% of whites, according to census data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In the past few weeks, competition among the large number of Canadian online pharmacies has led to a "rush to open new markets in the United States," and several pharmacies have developed Spanish-language versions of their Web sites and advertised in local ethnic newspapers and on radio. Universal Drugstore, a pharmacy in Winnipeg, has hired Gema Hernandez, a former director of elderly affairs for Florida, as a consultant to develop ties with Hispanic leaders in the state, and eight of the 24 company telephone customer service representatives speak Spanish. According to Jeff Uhl, president of Universal Drugstore, Hispanic consumers account for 10% of total company sales.
FDA officials raised concerns that "some non-English speakers may be unfamiliar with potential safety risks of importing prescriptions," the Globe reports. William Hubbard, FDA associate commissioner for planning and policy, said, "One of our principal concerns has been that some populations, such as seniors, may not be as well suited to understanding the nuances of the business, and that could also apply to recent immigrant populations" (Rowland, Boston Globe, 10/24).