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

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Canada Plans to Rein In Internet Drug Sales

Santa Monica, CA — The Canadian Prime Minister is expected to announce plans next week to restrict Internet sales of prescription drugs to U.S. consumers. New regulations are expected to require Canadian doctors to examine patients before writing prescriptions, unlike the current system in which physicians can co-sign after reviewing a prescription that had already been written by an American doctor.

“Americans are only buying drugs from Canada because President Bush and Congress, with their cozy ties to the pharmaceutical industry, refuse to support a prescription drug bulk purchasing plan,” said David Fink, consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FCTR). “Seniors and other patients shouldn’t have to rely on other countries to get the drugs they need.”

Canada, England, Ireland and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs save 30-80% and more off the cost of U.S.-made drugs by negotiating bulk discounts on behalf of all patients. The recent U.S. Medicare prescription drug bill banned the program from negotiating bulk discounts. Under the bulk purchasing model, counties, states and the Federal government could dramatically increase their bargaining power with drug manufacturers by combining current drug purchases for public health care programs, individual consumers, hospitals and employers.

FTCR is working with the City of Los Angeles and newly elected Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to develop the nation’s first city-based prescription bulk purchasing program. That program, “L.A. Rx,” would be available for any individual regardless of age, income, or insurance level, as well as small business owners and hospitals. Prescription drug discounts under the program are estimated to be 20 to 40 percent. The U.S. has greater buying power — Canada has approximately 30 million people while the U.S. has approximately 300 million — which could lead to even larger discounts than those seen north of the border.

In August and October of last year FTCR sponsored two chartered train trips that took groups of seniors into Canada to buy their prescription drugs. Participants on the trips saved an average of 60% off what they pay in the U.S. for the exact same drugs. The reason behind the trips was to display the need for a system similar to Canada’s. Read more about the trips at http://www.RxExpressCanada.org
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a leading nonpartisan and nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

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