New York Times Examines Debate Over Reimportation of Prescription Drugs
The New York Times on Monday examined the debate between U.S. regulators and lawmakers over whether to allow the reimportation of lower-cost, U.S.-manufactured prescription drugs from Canada. According to the Times, Canadian online pharmacies have made "hundreds of million of dollars" through the sale of prescription drugs to U.S. residents. U.S. residents in 2003 spent $695 million on reimported prescription drugs -- of which online purchases accounted for 66% of the sales -- but market growth for Canadian online pharmacies has "flattened" in 2004, in part because of restrictions on sales to U.S. residents implemented by pharmaceutical companies, the Times reports. A number of large pharmaceutical companies have threatened to end shipments to Canadian online pharmacies that sell their products to U.S. residents. In addition, FDA has "stepped up ... warnings" about the safety of reimportation. Andy Troszok, vice president for standards at the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, said, "When Americans start being told by their own government that they're breaking the law, it has an effect." However, Canadian online pharmacies "have gained powerful allies in governors, mayors and county executives, who are publicly declaring" that at least some of the pharmacies are safe, according to the Times. Minnesota and Wisconsin both recently have established prescription drug Web sites to help residents reimport medications from Canada (Tedeschi, New York Times, 3/8).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.