NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 14, 2004

Canadian pharmacies that export drugs to Americans are being hurt by the fall in the U.S. dollar and regulations imposed by their own government, according to Clifford Krauss of the New York Times.

The Canadian online pharmacy industry, which focuses primarily on maintenance drugs for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, now accumulates cross-border sales of more than $800 million every year. And although sales continue to increase, recent developments have put a damper on profits, says Krauss:

  • The declining value of U.S. currency has reduced profits on some drugs by up to 15 percent this year.
  • Online pharmacists allege the American pharmaceutical companies are putting pressure on wholesalers not to do business with them.
  • Canadian lawmakers are clamping down on the practice of co-signing a prescription without examining the patient, whereby offending pharmacists could see their license suspended.

Canada's health minister, Ujjal Dosanjh, says the practice of co-signing prescriptions without actually having a relationship with the patient and properly assessing the patient is absolutely unethical and unprofessional. Dosanjh suggests shutting down the entire industry is not out of the question.

There are also concerns that online, cross-border pharmacies reduce the availability of drugs for Canadians. Dosanjh notes Canada cannot be the drug store of 280 million Americans.

Source: Clifford Krauss, "Internet Drug Exporters Feel Pressure in Canada," New York Times, December 11, 2004.

For NYT text (subscription required)


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