Riding the Rails: All Aboard the RX Express

The 2004 presidential election provided a moment of clarity for many Americans about the high cost of prescription drugs.

The issue infected the presidential debate between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry. So our consumer group chartered two private trains—dubbed the Rx Express—to take seniors to Canada to buy cheaper drugs, right in the middle of the presidential debates.

Consumer Watchdog’s Jerry Flanagan wanted to show how Americans pay about 60 percent more for prescription drugs than the people of other nations. The next president would then have to lower prescription drug costs.

One train went up the West Coast, another up the East Coast, picking up seniors along the way while we held whistle-stop press conferences in their communities.

rxexpress jerry flanagan
Jerry Flanagan aboard the RX Express


The East Coast train began in Florida and stopped for passengers and press conferences all the way to Toronto. The West Coast train did the same from San Diego to Vancouver. In Canada, the Rx Express riders saved an average of 60 percent off the prescription drug prices they paid in the United States for a total annual savings of $2,000 each.

The seniors’ journeys made a big impression, in the media and with the presidential candidates.

The Rx Express train trips generated more than three hundred television appearances, with a Nielsen audience of sixty-five million, sixty newspaper articles, and one hundred radio interviews.

The provision of prescription drug benefits to seniors became a central issue in the election and ultimately translated to an expansion of Medicare, albeit a faulty one that must be corrected at the right moment.

We had one amazing windfall of luck during the trip when the Bush administration tried to intimidate our seniors. Government officials boarded the eastern-seaboard train at its last stop before the Canadian border looking for drugs. On the night of a presidential debate no less. Of course, that mistake only gave Jerry and his crew of seniors another round of media stories.

The only error we made was not asking then senator Barack Obama to come along. Had we, he may not have been able to retreat in 2009 from his campaign pledge to reduce the nation’s prescription drug bill through bulk purchasing.

RX Express News Clips

Canada to Ban Prescription Drug Exports

U.S. Seniors Left With No Alternative

U.S. Patients’ Access to Canadian Drug Discounts Threatened

Canada Plans to Rein In Internet Drug Sales

Canada, Mexico soon will seem farther away


"It seems to me that this is something that's meant to deter travelers from going to Canada to buy prescription drugs every 90 days," says Jamie Court, president of FTCR, a consumer watchdog group which has organized "Rx Express" trips to take senior

Drug companies approve $10 million for California ballot fight

Sacramento Bee

Jamie Court, head of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based taxpayers and consumers foundation, called the Schwarzenegger and Ortiz plan a "smokescreen" designed to undercut the Election Watchdog prescription drug bulk purchasing plan.

Consumer Group Demands Merck Disclose Amount of Executive Payouts;

Golden Parachutes Cost Seniors & Patients in Higher Drug Prices

Canada-bound seniors search for cheaper prescription drugs;

Train stops in Savannah to pick up people who can't afford medicine here.

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

Such pharmaceuticals are available in Canada for 30 percent to 60 percent less because Canadians buy in bulk, a system that drug companies have blocked in the United States, said Jerry Flanagan of FTCR, the California-based organizer of the train trip.

Seniors on drug train buy cheaper medicines in Canada

Associated Press

After a 600-mile train ride to a drug store in Toronto, June Marie Preston said Thursday she was buying medication that would save her thousands of dollars a year compared to prices in her Pennsylvania hometown.

Drug protesters, Amtrak spar over trip

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Jerry Flanagan, health care policy director for the nonprofit group running the Rx Express, said Amtrak's action must have been taken to keep protests about U.S. prescription drug costs out of the news on the day of the last presidential debate.

Americans must have access to affordable medication

The Saratogian

A group of senior citizens steamed up from Miami this week aboard two train cars dubbed the Rx Express, heading to Toronto in search of reasonably priced prescription medication. The fact that they have to travel so far is shameful.

The Yonge Street drug connection

The Toronto Star

The Shannons are just two among two dozen Americans who rolled into Union Station Wednesday night on the Rx Express - a train voyage that started five days ago in Miami. Invited aboard by the non-partisan FTCR, they saved an average of 56% on their drug p

U.S. Seniors Aboard the Rx Express Save 60% on Prescriptions in Canada

U.S. President Bush and Senator Kerry Urged to Endorse Rx Bulk Purchasing

U.S. seniors take ‘Rx Express’ to T.O.:

Come to buy lower-cost Canadian prescriptions

The Standard (St. Catharines, Ontario)

The Toronto-bound Amtrak train departed Miami on Monday and stopped in dozens of East Coast cities to pick up passengers. Dubbed the Rx Express, the trip includes 25 seniors or other ailing Americans from several states up and down the east coast.

U.S. seniors descend on Toronto pharmacy


A group of U.S. patients frustrated with the cost of drug therapy at home descended on a downtown pharmacy today to send a message to American political leaders - and fill their prescriptions at the same time

Seniors’ freedom train pulls into town

Toronto Star

Two dozen aging and ailing Americans who last night completed a 3,500 kilometre train journey to Union Station as modern-day revolutionaries - like the "freedom riders" who bused into the U.S. south to fight segregation.

Presidential Debate on Prescription Drug Prices Isn’t Stopping the RxExpress

CTV - News Canada

More than two dozen seniors and patients arrived in Toronto Wednesday night aboard a chartered train that picked up passengers from across the U.S. as it made its way north from Miami, Florida.


Buffalo News (New York)

A train ride from Miami to Toronto by a group of U.S. senior citizens intent on buying low-cost prescription drugs in Canada turned into a running feud between a consumer group and Amtrak.

U.S. seniors ride ‘Rx Express’ to Toronto to buy lower-cost prescriptions

The Canadian Press (CP)

More than two dozen U.S. seniors and patients rolled into Toronto Wednesday night aboard the Rx Express a chartered train on a whistle-stop tour to buy lower-cost Canadian prescription drugs.

Prescription Drug Advocates Bash Amtrak

Associated Press

The group of about 20 elderly people are traveling to Toronto to buy drugs at cheaper Canadian prices. The U.S. government does not allow reimportation of such drugs from Canada, arguing there are safety concerns.

Group fed up with high prescription drug costs

ABC News TV 10 (Syracuse, NY)

Senator John Kerry takes a different stance from Bush. "As President, I'll fight to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada," Kerry said.

Riding the Rails: All Aboard the RX Express

The RX Express started its journey in Miami, Florida, and stopped at the Rensselaer Train Station. It's traveling across the East Coast to pick up senior citizens and take them to Toronto, Canada, in order to buy lower cost prescription drugs.

Seniors, en route to Canada to buy cheaper drugs, stop in New York City

Associated Press

The caravan, dubbed the Rx Express, started Monday in Miami and stopped in Manhattan on Tuesday to pick up more passengers and try to pressure the U.S. government to negotiate with manufacturers for lower prices, as is done in Canada.

Pill-smuggling grannies

The Toronto Star

The aim of the RxExpress is to pressure both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington to adopt a Canadian-style system of buying drugs, that is, buying in bulk to negotiate better prices for U.S. citizens.


Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

A 77-year-old Ocoee man boarded the so-called "Rx Express" for Canada, where he hopes to buy his medications for less than he pays in Florida. The trip is organized by a consumer group that is pushing for lower drug prices in the United States.


The New York Sun

The RxExpress train trip, which started in Miami yesterday, was designed to bring attention to the practice of bulk drug purchasing in Canada, which he says translates into discounts of 30% to 60%.

Tired of high prescription drug prices? Take the Rx Express to Toronto

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

The California-based FTCR sponsored a similar ride up the West Coast in August, and both trips provide the group with a whistle-stop tour on which to promote their solution - a national bulk-purchasing program for all patients.

Rx Express to Take Seniors & Patients to Canada to Buy Lower Cost Prescription Drugs;

Bush & Kerry Urged to Support Prescription Drug Bulk Purchasing

Seniors find discounts on Rx Express

Miami Herald

FTCR wants the federal government to insist that the drug manufacturers provide bulk rates for Medicare recipients, the same way the Veterans Administration forces large discounts for its patients.

Manatee woman to ride drug train;

Seniors, disabled people climb aboard to buy cheaper prescription drugs in Canada

Bradenton Herald

Their trip should net big savings: Passengers on the first Rx Express trip, which ran from San Diego to Vancouver in August, saved passengers an average of $2,000 each on their annual prescription drug bills, FTCR said.

Big “A” Catching Up To Dubya In Drug Money;

No Other Pol Raising As Much As Arnold



Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

"We want to raise the profile of this issue so that people will have cheaper drugs for a long, long time to come," said Jerry Flanagan with the California-based FTCR. "Our goal is to make it unnecessary to go to Canada in the future."

Hop a train to save on drug costs

St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

Jerry Flanagan of the foundation said the sponsors will screen interested participants with an eye toward those with the greatest need. Participants on the West Coast trip saved an average of $2,000 per person on their Canadian purchases.

RxExpress Now Heads Up East Coast Taking Seniors to Buy Canadian Drugs

Senior Journal

The RxExpress is about to make another drug run to Canada. This time they will pick up pre-selected senior citizens along the East Coast to take them across the northern US border to buy prescription drugs at prices much lower than those available in the

Seniors disgusted with prescription drug prices board train to Canada

The Rx Express from Miami to Canada, via Savannah, is a way for seniors to thumb their noses at the U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

Savannah Morning News

The goal of the Rx Express, paid for and organized by a California-based consumer advocacy group, FTCR, is to demonstrate the huge price disparity between prescription meds in the United States versus those in Canada.

Schwarzenegger Should Heed National Survey – 1/3 of Americans Plan to Purchase Rx From Other Countries

Four Bills on Gov's Desk Today Allow Rx Importation and Bulk Purchasing

Stores light way for Canadian prices on drugs

The Oregonian

the nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights reserved two cars on an Amtrak train that stopped in Portland en route to Vancouver, B.C., in search of lower-cost drugs. The train, dubbed the Rx Express, generated widespread buzz -- and sympathy

“Off-the-Rails Drug Policy”

Los Angeles Times

Last week, the California Assembly approved legislation authorizing the state to buy cheaper drugs from Canada for the prison system and other state agencies.

Arnold’s Own Rx Express

Arnold's $350,000 trip to the GOP convention in New York is being paid for in part by the pharmaceutical industry, including Abbot Labs, Amgen and Pfizer.

Yesterday, a group of 20...

U.S. seniors’ drug train rolls into Vancouver;

Activists highlight need for cheaper drugs in the U.S.

The Vancouver Province (British Columbia)

Elderly U.S. activists intent on saving up to 60 per cent on the cost of prescription drugs brought a key issue in the U.S. presidential election to Vancouver yesterday as they arrived to fill prescriptions written in the United States.

Seniors on Rx Express roll into B.C.

The Gazette (Montreal, Canada)

In Canada, prescription drugs sell for 30 to 60 per cent less than in the U.S. because the Canadian government buys in bulk and negotiates rates, Rx Express organizer Jerry Flanagan says.

Seniors find cure for pricey drugs

The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)

Jerry Flanagan of FTCR said the U.S. should adopt the Canadian policy of buying drugs in bulk and negotiating lower prices with pharmaceutical companies, who have too much lobbying power in Washington.

‘Drug Train’ Takes Americans to Canada

Associated Press

About two dozen Americans who chartered a two-car train for a four-day whistlestop trip from San Diego to Vancouver to buy medication and bring pressure on the U.S. government to negotiate with manufacturers for lower prices, as is done in Canada.



The Brockville Recorder & Times (Ontario)

Seniors groups estimate about 11 million older Americans - roughly one-third of the total - do without drug coverage and more than a quarter of Americans with disabilities lack coverage.

U.S. Seniors Travel to Canada for Affordable Rx Drugs;

Reimportation and Bulk Purchasing Urged

U.S. demand for our medicine worries druggists

The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia, Canada)

The Santa Monica-based FTCR has spent $25,000 to charter part of an Amtrak train to bring seniors and other patients to Vancouver to buy cheap prescription drugs in a protest against the disparity in drug pricing between Canada and the U.S.

Rx Express heads north for drug buy;

Two Portlanders are taking the Canada-bound train trip calling attention to the power of bulk purchasing

The Oregonian

"Why do you get better prices at Costco? It's bulk purchasing," said Jamie Court, foundation president and chief organizer of the protest.

Drug train travels through

The Davis Enterprise

Passengers on the Rx Express hope to draw attention to high drug prices in the United States and add to the increasing call for the government to be permitted to negotiate a national bulk-purchasing program for pharmaceuticals, which they believe would re

Cross-border run;

Seniors head for Canada in search of better drug prices

The San Francisco Chronicle

"The point is, nobody should have to travel to Canada to get affordable drugs," said Doug Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, one of the groups funding the trip and lobbying for the bills in Sacramento.

Seniors take aim at drug prices;

Event will spotlight two groups' differing cost-cutting solutions

Portland Tribune

The Rx Express started off as a simple enough idea: Send a group of senior citizens up to Canada to save money on their prescription drugs, and raise all sorts of election-year issues along the way.

Rx Express rolls through county with a message;

Train touts cheaper prescription drugs

Ventura County Star

The Rx Express was on its way to Vancouver, B.C., where the 25 or so riders, all age 50 and older, hope to have their prescriptions filled at prices 30 to 60 percent cheaper than at pharmacies in the United States.

Rx Express rolls north in search of cheap drugs

The Toronto Star

The Rx Express was arranged and paid for by a taxpayers' group, which wants the government to be allowed to negotiate a national bulk-purchasing program for pharmaceuticals to reduce their cost to U.S. Medicare patients and others.

Rx Express

Broadcast News (BN - Canada)

U.S. seniors are on a train heading to Vancouver looking for relief from skyrocketing drug costs.

Riding rails for drug imports

Group wants state OK to buy cheaper Canadian medications.

Sacramento Bee

California is one of at least 25 states weighing legislation that would allow Canadian drug imports, and Los Angeles and San Francisco are among scores of cities doing the same.

Rolling protest over high drug prices heads from LA to Canada

Associated Press

"Prescription drugs are bankrupting the entire health care system," said Jerry Flanagan of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

Rx Express to Take Seniors & Patients to Canada to Buy Lower Cost Prescription Drugs

American Rx Bulk Purchasing Could Save U.S. Consumers Billions of Dollars

Taking Rx Express;

Six O.C. residents are joining a trip to Canada to protest high prescription-drug costs.

Orange County Register

The train is sponsored by Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which is advocating, among other reforms, prescription drug bulk purchasing to lower drug costs.

Pharmacists and Drug Company Front Group Opposes Rx Imports to Protect Their Profits

Rx Express Will take Seniors to Canada to Buy Prescription

How Much Would You Save if the U.S. Bulk Purchased Rx?

Rx Express Partner Provides Drug Calculator on Website

They Can’t Stomach Drug-Firm Baloney

Los Angeles Times

"People should not have to drive two hours, or take a train trip, or go on the Internet to buy drugs from another country," says Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Los Angeles), the author of two bills that would bring some relief.

An active retirement;

Older Americans make a formidable voting bloc, and as healthcare issues and the war make headlines, more are politicized, some say.

Los Angeles Times

The Canadian Rx Express is a train ride to Vancouver to pick up three-month supplies of prescription drugs to dramatize the irony of having to go to Canada to buy U.S.-made drugs at discount prices, organized by FTCR.

Bush and Kerry Invited to Join Rx Express to Canada

Train Trip With Patients to Highlight Need for Rx Bulk Purchasing

Drug train looks to get lawmakers on board

Troy Record

The Rx Express will be rolling through the Capital District this week en route to Canada to purchase cheaper prescription drugs.

Bills bring pain

The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Aiming to make companies of all kinds more accountable for the bills they send, the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights is drafting a "Bill-payers Bill of Rights" that would require companies to itemize all bills.

Prescription Sales, Privacy Fears; CVS, Giant Share Customer Records With Drug Marketing Firm

Using technology in a new way to market drugs, CVS Corp. and Giant Food Inc. are sending confidential prescription information to a Massachusetts company that tracks customers who don't refill prescriptions, a practice that some experts say...

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