Pfizer Limits Prescription Drug Supplies to Canadian Pharmacies
Officials for New York-Based Pfizer have informed several Canadian mail-order pharmacies that the company will no longer supply them with Pfizer products as part of an effort to end sales of the medications to U.S. residents, the Washington Post reports. In a letter sent Feb. 12, Pfizer told Winnipeg-based Universal Drug Store and six other Canadian pharmacies that "effective immediately, your pharmacy is no longer approved to purchase Pfizer products from Pfizer Canada's authorized distributors." Andy McCormick, a spokesperson for Pfizer, said, "The export of pharmaceuticals from Canada represents a violation of our long-standing business terms," adding, "We want to ensure that in Canada, medicines developed by Pfizer are in sufficient supply for Canadians" (Connolly, Washington Post, 2/19). Last month, Pfizer sent a letter to Canadian pharmacies that outlined a new company policy, under which the pharmacies must obtain authorization from Pfizer to conduct business with prescription drug wholesalers approved by the company; Pfizer will only provide authorization to pharmacies that promise not to sell company products to U.S. residents. The letter stated, "This includes not selling, transferring or distributing products to any person that you know, or have reasonable grounds for believing, will or may export Pfizer products out of Canada. Any breach of the terms of this letter will result in Pfizer refusing all further sales to you" (California Healthline, 1/14).
Officials for Universal Drug Store said that they have stockpiles of most Pfizer products and will seek other wholesalers. However, they said that the "increasingly tense relations" between drug companies and Canadian pharmacies could "make it harder for patients in both countries to purchase life-saving prescription medications," the Post reports. Andy Troszok, vice president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association and an executive at Crossborderpharmacy.com, said that the move by Pfizer "definitely made it more difficult for mail-order pharmacies in Canada to supply U.S. patients." He added, "The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is threatening the Canadian people. If you allow this to continue, it will create shortages in Canada." Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch (D), who has filed an antitrust lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, which also has limited shipments of company products to Canadian pharmacies, called concerns raised by Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies over prescription drug shortages in Canada "a phony argument" made by a "highly arrogant" industry (Washington Post, 2/19).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.