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Problem: The prescription drugs many of us rely on to stay alive have become too costly to afford, yet the FDA and our President refuse to support the reimportation of drugs from Canada

  •   There are still 1.1 million Wisconsin citizens without insurance to cover their medication costs – people with disabilities on Medicare, low-income working adults, the uninsured and underinsured, children, farmers, seniors and families.

  •   The United States is the only industrialized nation without a universal health care plan. 

  •   America was also recently ranked 37th among the most efficient health care systems in the world by the World Health Organization (Capital Times, 2/4/04).

  • American citizens pay at least 50% more for their prescription drugs than anywhere else in the industrialized world.

Solution: Learn the real facts about reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada

  •      In a Congressional hearing last summer, when pressed by Minnesota Representative Gil    Gutnecht, FDA associate commissioner William Hubbard could not come up with even one example of an incident in which an American had died from taking drugs imported from Canada (Time, 1/27/04). 

  •       It is estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 people die every year as a result of taking FDA-approved drugs that were sold in the US (Time, 1/27/04). 

  •       U.S. drugs manufactured for the Canadian market are produced in the same facilities as those destined for the U.S. market (www.fairdrugprices.org). 

  •        More and more, FDA-approved drugs are produced outside of the country with little FDA oversight after initial inspections. In fact, 17 out of 20 of the world’s largest drug companies make their drugs in Ireland (Time, 1/27/04).

  •        at least 7 out of the 11 FDA commissioners who claim prescription drug reimportation legislation is unsafe have strong financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical equipment industry” according to a report released in 2000 by US Representative Bernard Sanders. 

  •       This month, several Canadian online pharmacists received registered letters from Pfizer Canada saying they will no longer be allowed to buy the company's products. (www.canada.com)

Action: support Governor Doyle’s Website that offers consumers links to Pharmacies in Canada

  •  We need to let Tommy Thompson know that if he is truly concerned with the safety of consumers of prescription drugs, especially our seniors, there needs to be a shift in focus from questioning the safety of drugs sold in Canada to questioning why 43 million Americans still lack health care coverage.  Americans should be able to go to their corner pharmacy for their drugs, not across the border.  They should be able to see a doctor when they are sick, instead of being driven into debt when a medical emergency occurs. After all, as Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer, a PHD at the University of Minnesota School of Pharmacy, recently said, "A drug that is not affordable is neither safe nor effective.”  And neither is a government that puts profits before its citizens’ health.

  • Write a letter to your congressperson telling them to give the power to reimport drugs from Canada back to the states and not to Secretary Thompson.

FAQs

  •          Is it illegal to import drugs from Canada? For many years the FDA overlooked the reimportation of drugs from Canada by individuals. Trade has now expanded to $700 million US a year and more state and local governments talked openly of saving money with bulk-buying plans.   The FDA has threatened to take legal action against states who attempt to buy drugs from Canada, but there is nothing illegal about the informational site provided by Governor Doyle.

  •         Does the ability to reimport drugs from Canada require an act of congress? Yes: Congress authorized reimportation but gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services "veto" authority over its implementation. The Secretary can block reimportation of U.S-made drugs, and, to date has done so. At a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing on February 12, Secretary Thompson stated, "The law requires me to certify that drugs coming in from another country are safe. This is a hurdle I can't meet."

  •         So can I get in trouble? No: While the FDA may be considering taking action against states the individual purchase of drugs is still okay.

  • What is the web address for Wisconsin’s Canadian Drug site?

www.drugsavings.wi.gov

 

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