My dad gets his beta blocker (high blood pressure medicine) from overseas, but my wife insists on carrying an entire course of antibiotics when we fly out of the country. Just like our family, the Congress is uncertain if it should legalize the import of drugs from Canada and other countries.
There are a several questions at hand. Are drugs from Canada safe? Are drugs from Canada cheaper? Why have Congress and the President banned Canadian drugs? What can we do?
The drug companies and the present administration argue that we cannot ensure the safety of drugs from oversees, and hence, we should ban them. Yet, there is little truth to this, according to Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of New England Journal of Medicine. She points out that Pfizer has 60 manufacturing sites in 32 countries and the same drugs go all over the world; the drugs are safe or we can easily put safeguards to ensure drug safety.
Are drugs from Canada cheaper? The former mayor from a town in Massachusetts did the calculation. If his 3,000 city employees, retirees, and their family members were to buy all their drugs from Canada, the city could save $4 to $9 million annually. Imagine how much we would save as a nation.
So why have Congress and the President banned Canadian drugs? The ban on Canadian drugs has to do more about protecting special interests than drug safety. Drug prices cannot be regulated in America like they are regulated in almost every other developed nation. Over 600 lobbyists working for pharmaceutical companies on Capitol Hill and over 40 million dollars in campaign contributions by pharmaceutical companies keep the US drug prices inflated.
Yet things are changing. Americans are taking the matter in their own hand. Though such purchases are technically illegal, more than a million American are now buying Canadian drugs. It is not bus driven seniors or clandestine on-line bargain hunters, but it is mayors of towns and cities from Minnesota to Alabama who are taking part in this activity.
Oh yes, if you believe the new Medicare drug prescription plan passed last year will help with the cost of pharmaceuticals, think again. It will still be cheaper for most seniors to purchase their medicine from Canada than with the new drug plan. And, in the new Medicare drug plan there is specifically a ban on purchasing medications from Canada.
So don’t be surprised if you see seniors loading the buses for Toronto instead of Tupelo.