NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 12, 2004

Because of strong resistance from major pharmaceutical manufacturers, presidential candidate's John Kerry's plan to enable Americans to buy cheaper drugs abroad may not be as easy as he envisions, say observers.

  • The reason is that many of the large manufacturers, led by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, have cut off a huge chuck of the international traffic by reducing supplies to Canada.
  • That has left Canadian pharmacies looking around the world to find drugs, adding a third party to what is already a complicated international transaction.
  • Under existing law, importing drugs from Canada is illegal, but the federal government has not punished consumers who do so (thousands of South Florida seniors get their drugs from Canada).
  • The Bush administration has steadfastly opposed any plan that would allow consumers to buy drugs abroad; it believes that is the drugs are not approved and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, consumers can't be sure of their quality.

The industry's trade association, PhRMA, has repeatedly opposed such international trafficking because imported medicines from other countries present serious patient safety risks. The bills for importation pending in the United States Senate allow pharmaceutical products to be transshipped to unsuspecting American patients through `acceptable' countries from nations that don't have the same safety standards as the United States, say observers.

Source: John Dorschner, "Canada Feels Squeeze from Drug Makers," Miami Herald, August 4, 2004.


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