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It's payback time for Canada for March 7 border opening

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Anonymous

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Thursday, February 17, 2005, 12:00 A.M. Pacific

Canada wants to stem flow of cheap prescription drugs

By Nick Perry
Seattle Times staff reporter


Washington state moved to join the millions buying cheaper prescription drugs in Canada, but it may be too late.

The state House yesterday approved a measure encouraging state employees to buy cheaper Canadian prescription drugs. Two other bills aimed at increasing access to the Canadian drug market are pending in the House, and one in the Senate.

But some parts of the measures could prove impossible to implement. And the bills come at a time when Canadian leaders appear poised to stamp out most of the $1 billion annual prescription-drug trade with Americans.

In an interview, Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said he is considering several measures that would rein in sales to the U.S.

One would require Canadian physicians to establish a relationship with a patient before signing a prescription — putting a halt to Canadian doctors who co-sign thousands of American prescriptions without seeing the patient.

Another would require patients to be present in Canada before a doctor could sign a prescription. A third would ban bulk purchases of Canadian drugs if those drugs were in short supply.

Dosanjh said he wants to protect Canada's cheaper drug prices and stop doctors from unethically prescribing drugs.

"It's not my intent to shut down anything," Dosanjh said. "It's my intent first to ensure that we have good medicine based on good ethics, and that doctors have a doctor-patient relationship for those whom they prescribe medicine."
Prescription drugs are generally cheaper in Canada because of strict price controls and the lower Canadian dollar. Drug prices in the U.S. are among the highest in the world — a premium that drug makers say is necessary to recoup research-and-development costs.

Some people expect drug companies to try to protect their lucrative U.S. market by pressuring Canada into raising prices or cutting supply if the cross-border trade is not stemmed. That would prove expensive for Canadian government agencies that provide drug benefits in health plans.

Dosanjh said drug companies in recent months have already been raising prices, within the range allowed by price controls.

"That pricing regime is very dear to us," he said. "If our prices go up significantly, the provincial treasuries and federal treasury will suffer expenditures of hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps billions.

"The other thing, of course, is that we are a small country of 30 million people, and we cannot be the drugstore for 300 million Americans. The solutions for your problems lie within your borders."

Dosanjh said he has no timetable for implementing the measures, which are being analyzed for legal, constitutional and international-trade implications.

But the rumblings from Canada have not deterred local lawmakers.

"I don't know how many millions and millions of dollars we have allowed pharmaceutical companies to gouge citizens, but I think it's time to put an end to it," said Rep. Geoff Simpson, D-Covington, who sponsored the measure that passed the House yesterday.

Simpson's bill would offer financial incentives, such as free or discounted co-pays, to qualifying people who choose to buy cheaper Canadian prescription drugs. About 143,000 state employees, dependents and retirees who belong to the Uniform Medical Plan would qualify.

Simpson said he thinks the state could save $10 million a year.

His bill also would give Legislative approval to a Web site established last year by then-Gov. Gary Locke that directs Washington residents to online Canadian pharmacies.

But at least part of Simpson's bill is little more than symbolic. One section would allow state agencies to buy drugs from Canada — if the idea is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Parts of the remaining bills include similar hurdles.

"We don't have any waiver authority ... there is just no such provision in our law," said William Hubbard, the FDA associate commissioner for policy and planning. "Drugs have to be cleared before they come into the country. The FDA was created 100 years ago for that reason."

Hubbard said many Internet sites offering Canadian drugs are scamming customers with substandard medicines from other countries.

Medical authorities in British Columbia already are cracking down on doctors who co-sign thousands of American prescriptions without ever seeing the patients.

Under Canadian law, prescriptions filled in Canada must be signed by a Canadian doctor. So Americans often obtain a prescription from a U.S. doctor, then send it to Canada where it is co-signed by a Canadian doctor.

Since last July, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. has censured four doctors for unprofessional conduct. Three were fined and a fourth, already on probation, was suspended from practicing medicine for two years.

College Registrar Dr. Morris VanAndel said he doesn't have exact figures but believes that one doctor signed 45,000 prescriptions for Americans. He said he sympathizes with those facing high drug bills in Washington state.

"But the solution is not to compromise the professional standards of B.C. doctors," he said. "We don't think the medical signature is for sale."

Canadian Internet pharmacies yesterday suggested setting a limit on bulk drug sales to the U.S. as a way of safeguarding the Canadian drug supply while preserving their business with Americans, the news agency Reuters reported.

Aside from Simpson's bill, two other bills in the House would authorize the state to inspect and then license Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers, opening the door to greater cross-border trade. But one of the bills requires an FDA waiver, and the other requires cooperation from Canadian health authorities. Neither seems likely.

The bills also might make the state liable should someone be harmed by drugs from one of the state-licensed Canadian pharmacies.

"It is very definitely about sending a message, about standing up for Washingtonians," said Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy Park, who sponsored one of the bills. "If and when the Bush administration relents and allows a waiver, we are set to go."

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, who chairs the Senate's Health and Long-Term Care Committee, said she expects some version of a Canadian drug bill to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or [email protected]
 

Murgen

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Sounds like the Canadian Government is looking at safety dictated by science first and trade secondly. Wouldn't all US citizens agree that this is fair? Why would a US citizen want to buy something they can get in there own country for a higher price, and be willing to accept that a US doctor has not said it's safe?

Oh, unless the safety precautions are the same in both countries and then they be willing. COOL (for perscriptions) might stop this action from happening, maybe we should just label all Canadian drugs with a CAN(CDN) brand and then Us citizens pobably won't buy them. Loyality and all!
 
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Anonymous

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If the R-Calfer's who are so adamant about COOL would wear nothing but Made in America apparel there would be nothing between their hat and boots. But I guess there isn't much under the hat anyway.
 
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Anonymous

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Murgen said:
Sounds like the Canadian Government is looking at safety dictated by science first and trade secondly. Wouldn't all US citizens agree that this is fair? Why would a US citizen want to buy something they can get in there own country for a higher price, and be willing to accept that a US doctor has not said it's safe?

Oh, unless the safety precautions are the same in both countries and then they be willing. COOL (for perscriptions) might stop this action from happening, maybe we should just label all Canadian drugs with a CAN(CDN) brand and then Us citizens pobably won't buy them. Loyality and all!

That is what our government is telling us- Canadian drugs and inspection system is unsafe... So if that is so unsafe then what about their beef?

Canada had to promise to stop selling drugs to Americans in order for the US to take Canadian beef--- Some sound science :mad: -- Science of the almighty dollar and the big money packers and pharmaceutical companies that pore billions into the politicians pockets...........
Our administration sold out the rancher to protect the pharmaceutical companies profits.

I agree 100%- Label it all- Prescription drugs and beef- let the consumer decide if they want to buy cheap possibly unsafe Canadian drugs or if they want to buy cheap possibly unsafe Canadian beef.... Free and supposed FAIR trade should label everything and leave the decision to the consumer... Label it all and open her up...........
 

Murgen

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OT- it's already left to the consumer, you've been telling them that Canadian beef is unsafe, you've also been telling them that there are over a million Canadian cattle in the US at present and that over 5 million have come across the border in recent years, is demand going down? NO! You've gotten your message out, good job.

Muscle meat is unsafe, (r-calf quote) they're still buying it.

I think you're problem is that you can't watch a Canadian sport. Don't worry hockey will be back!
 

Murgen

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Oh, OT, those unsafe drugs are manufactured in the US, shipped here and then sold back to the US, at discounted prices! The reason they are cheap, is because our government subsidizes them. Better phone Bullard and have him fight that on behalf of "American Ranchers" too.
 
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Anonymous

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Murgen- We are supposed to put our trust in a Canadian system that cannot manufacture or market safe drugs? That is why we are being told that the Canadian imports have to be stopped... So then we trust the same Canadian system that tells us Canadian beef is safe? :?
 

Murgen

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What drugs are manufactured in Canada? Not many, not the ones the online pharmacies are selling, they have to be american made and approved to cross the border. Once again OT you better check your facts.
 
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Murgen said:
What drugs are manufactured in Canada? Not many, not the ones the online pharmacies are selling, they have to be american made and approved to cross the border. Once again OT you better check your facts.

Then why are they so dangerous to sell? If your Canadian system approves them they must be safe. Right? Or are they lying to all of us? Aren't they the same system approving these cattle coming south?

If our government thinks your system is so bad on approving drugs then why should I have faith in the Canadian system for approving the meat I eat?
 

Manitoba_Rancher

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Murgen,

You sure have a point there all the good drugs come up from the US then are sold back into the US . then all that are left for us in Canada are the cheap generic brands! :lol:
 

Manitoba_Rancher

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OT,

you mean to tell me you ve never ate our beef? Well if you have why didnt you die from poisoning or something... if our beef is so bad, then quit eating it! Oh and by the way I was listening to a US senator talk about Cool and he said it may never be implemented he said Canadian beef is as safe as USA.
 
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Murgen said:
The reason they are cheap, is because our government subsidizes them.

Just another one of those socialized Canadian subsidies we have to compete against!!! Like the Canadian Wheat Board- Prairie Provinces grazing and hayland payments, trucking subsidies, heifer retainment program (CAIS), etc. etc................

Wish the US government would give us $200 to winter our replacement heifers.........

FAIR trade :???:
 
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Manitoba_Rancher said:
OT,

if our beef is so bad, then quit eating it!

I would love to if it could be identified..didn't have to be stamped with a USDA stamp and passed of as US beef in order to sell it........
 

SMS

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Oldtimer said:
Murgen said:
The reason they are cheap, is because our government subsidizes them.

Just another one of those socialized Canadian subsidies we have to compete against!!! Like the Canadian Wheat Board- Prairie Provinces grazing and hayland payments, trucking subsidies, heifer retainment program (CAIS), etc. etc................

Wish the US government would give us $200 to winter our replacement heifers.........

FAIR trade :???:


OT, you mean to tell us the US goverment doesnt subsidize the US farmer & rancher? What about the billions of dollars that Bush wants to cut from the federal budget, that was going to agricultrual subsidy program?

Make you a deal, you get your goverment to stop all subsidies, green or otherwise, and we will do the same...ok :lol:
 

Manitoba_Rancher

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OT,

Where does CAIS come into effect? I am a fairly large cattle rancher and feeder operation and I have not gotten a damn cent out of CAIS. As for the $200 for set aside program you damn american s get a hell of a lot more subsidies than we do. If the Americans get a subsidy from the government thats OKAY.. if a Canadian gets money from the government , you buggers squeal louder than a pig getting its throat slit! OT, the world is bigger than Montana!
 

Manitoba_Rancher

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OT,

Where does CAIS come into effect? I am a fairly large cattle rancher and feeder operation and I have not gotten a damn cent out of CAIS. As for the $200 for set aside program you damn american s get a hell of a lot more subsidies than we do. If the Americans get a subsidy from the government thats OKAY.. if a Canadian gets money from the government , you buggers squeal louder than a pig getting its throat slit! OT, the world is bigger than Montana!
 

Murgen

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OT-knows all, he just sits on one of those big rocks around Butte and sees all. Mr. Long arm.
 
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Anonymous

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SMS said:
Make you a deal, you get your goverment to stop all subsidies, green or otherwise, and we will do the same...ok :lol:

I agree 100%- but it ain't gonna happen.. The same big money corporate farmers that rake in the majority of the subsidies exert the same amount of power over the political powers to be as those pharmaceutical companies that want to shut down cheap Canadian drug imports and those multinational packers that want unfettered access back to cheaper Canadian cattle.......

Spent a lot of years working in the government and decisions are not made on the advice of those in the know, but rather those with pull and those with a lot of dough..........Throw in a little blow and you've handled the job with the politicians.....
 

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