Rx Express Will take Seniors to Canada to Buy Prescription
SACRAMENTO -- The California Pharmacists Association and a drug company front group, "CURES," held a press conference today opposing California legislation to import prescription drugs "in order to protect their own profits and those of their pharmaceutical company funders," according to Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
CURES received seed money from the California Healthcare Institute, a pharmaceutical trade association, and BIOCOM, a bio-tech trade association. In February, the California Pharmacists Association paid for materials used in a joint campaign with the Food and Drug Administration designed to deter consumers form importing their medications from Canada.
"It is outrageous that groups purporting to operate in the interest of our health are in fact working to increase their own profit," said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "Seniors and patients should not have to travel to Canada to get the lower cost prescriptions they need."
Next week, FTCR will take seniors and other patients on a chartered train -- the Rx Express -- to Vancouver, Canada to purchase lower cost prescriptions. The Rx Express will stop in dozens of towns in California, Oregon and Washington and pick up patients along the way. Both President Bush and Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry have been invited to join the Rx Express to hear from Medicare enrollees and other patients about the need for a national prescription drug bulk-purchasing program.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Canadian government save 30-60% off the cost of U.S. made drugs as a result of negotiating lower rates for bulk quantities.
The pharmacists and Bush Administration officials say drug importation is unsafe despite the fact that many prescription drugs on the world market are produced by FDA approved facilities.
"Senior citizens need affordable drugs because they are often forced to choose between buying their medications and paying for rent and food. Instead of solving the problem, the FDA and the pharmacists have launched a scare campaign to deter seniors from the only alternative that they have to get the medications they need," said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
The coalition's central argument against importation, that research and development of new drugs will be significantly impacted by lower cost drugs from Canada, ignores the fact that drug companies spend two to three times on marketing new drugs than they do on research and development.
Four proposals pending in the California legislature would provide for direct bulk purchasing of prescriptions (AB 1958) and drug importation from Canada (SB 1349, SB 1144, AB 1957).
According to analysis by FTCR, Governor Schwarzenegger has received over $342,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies.
"To live up to his promise to be a Governor for the people -- not the special interests -- Schwarzenegger should either return the campaign contributions or promise to sign the legislation," said Jerry Flanagan
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information visit us on the web at www.CalHealthConsensus.org