Some Massachusetts Community Centers Teaching Seniors to Order Prescription Drugs Online from Canada
Frustrated with the high prices of prescription drugs in the United States, a growing number of Massachusetts seniors are learning how to illegally order prescription drugs from Canada using the Internet, the Boston Globe reports. Community and senior centers are teaching seniors how to obtain drugs through Canadian Internet pharmacies, which offer prices substantially lower than those found in this country. For example, Rosemary Morgan, a 66-year-old cancer survivor, said she obtains her breast cancer medication through CanadaRx for $44 -- a 90% discount from U.S. prices. Morgan and 75-year-old Isaac BenEzra teach a class at the Bangs Community Center in Amherst, instructing other seniors how to order foreign drugs online. In the past two years, BenEzra said he has trained approximately 1,000 seniors to order medications from CanadaRx. The South Hadley senior center also holds weekly classes in Internet drug ordering. BenEzra said he has also persuaded several physicians in Amherst to write prescriptions for their patients and to fax them to CanadaRx.
The Globe reports that some confusion exists about U.S. law regarding online ordering of foreign drugs. According to U.S. officials, the practice is illegal, but lax customs enforcement allows many shipments to reach customers in the United States. HHS is currently considering a plan to step up enforcement, but Congress will also consider legislation this fall that would lift the ban on purchasing prescription drugs from foreign pharmacies. Meanwhile, some seniors and Canadian pharmacists believe that the practice is legal. CanadaRx founder John Lubelski said that his company's requirement that patients' physicians fax requests for drugs is in compliance with U.S. rules allowing physicians' offices to act as pharmacies to import medications. Billy Shawn, owner of TheCanadianDrugstore, said that having patients sign over temporary power of attorney to his company allows the company to act legally as a purchasing agent for U.S. seniors. FDA officials reportedly disagree but have yet to take action on the issue (Lowalczyk, Boston Globe, 8/6).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.