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December 19, 2003

Canadian Drugs And The US Government - War?

From Dr. Betty Martini

From Paul Scavone


This article will give you some idea of how little concern the patent drug > companies and the FDA have for American consumers. > > DOIN' TIME > If you think our jails are overcrowded now, just wait until the federal government tries to put the state of New Hampshire and the City of Boston in jail. That's going to be some serious overcrowding.

"Live free or die" is the bold state motto of New Hampshire. And in that spirit, NH Governor Craig Benson announced last week that his state will defy federal law and purchase prescription drugs from Canada for Medicaid recipients and prison inmates. The estimated savings would probably top $1.5 million.

On the same day, Boston's Mayor Thomas M. Menino told reporters that beginning next summer his city will buy Canadian drugs for city employees, creating a projected savings of $1 million per year.

And you can be sure that the FDA isn't one bit happy about all this. But what are they going to do? Put Boston in jail? Beyond issuing a stern warning, it will be interesting to see how far the FDA attempts to go here. Especially when you consider that the FDA can't even touch the biggest U.S. customer for Canadian drugs.

And you might be flabbergasted to find out who that customer is. I know I was.


Suddenly we have a real revolution in the works.

The New Hampshire and Boston announcements were made only one day after President Bush signed the new Medicare bill into law. At one point the bill contained provisions that would allow U.S. Medicare patients to purchase less expensive Canadian drugs, or U.S. drugs re-imported from Canada at rates much lower than they could find anywhere here at home. But somewhere along the line those provisions were quietly removed from the bill.

Now let's put our heads together and see if we can figure out just who might have influenced various congressmen to remove those boarder-hopping provisions that would have saved U.S. consumers millions of dollars. Do you think lobbyists for drug companies might have had something to do with it? And do you think it might snow in Canada this winter?

Meanwhile, FDA officials continue to maintain that the economics of the situation are of no concern to them. They say it's a SAFETY issue, implying that Canadian safety standards are not set at the same superior level as those of the FDA. But so far their warnings about safety concerns have done nothing to slow down the sales of Canadian drugs and re-imported U.S. drugs to U.S. citizens. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, we bought more than $1 billion worth of drugs from Canada last year.


And here's where it gets REALLY interesting.

According to a CBS evening news "Inside Story" report last week, Boston and New Hampshire and all the buying power of individual U.S. citizens are very small potatoes compared to the largest U.S. customer of Canadian pharmaceuticals: The U.S. government.

If your jaw hit the floor when you read that, then you look exactly the way I looked when I saw the CBS report. I thought I'd heard it all, but this not only takes the cake, it takes the whole buffet.

The Department of Defense and the Veterans' Administration are just two government agencies that are allowed a special waiver to purchase drugs from Canada or any other country; something that citizens like you and I can't do. Not to mention Boston and New Hampshire.

In the CBS report, Michael Valentino - a spokesman for the Department of Veterans' Affairs - was asked to estimate how much his department has spent on foreign drugs. He said, "It's been in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the last several years."

GOOSE, MEET GANDER > So in spite of the supposed "safety concerns" the FDA says are presented by these foreign drugs, millions of veterans and others through the Defense Department have been supplied with Canadian drugs for years.

Of course, what we're witnessing in all of this is some of the most cynical cronyism you can imagine. Congressmen, regulators, and lobbyists accommodate one another as they please, but when it comes to the needs of citizens, or cities and states struggling in the current economic climate, we're given restrictions and left to our own devices.

A couple of centuries ago a certain tea party in Boston helped trigger a revolution.

Keep your eyes open for a harbor full of Lipitor, Vioxx and Viagra.