Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

Networking For A Better Future - News and perspectives you may not find in the media

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August 17, 2004

US Drug Prices Exorbitant - Illinois To Import From Canada, Britain and Ireland

Americans are waking up to the exorbitant prices pharmaceutical companies charge for prescription drugs - with knowledge and backing by the nation's pharma watchdog, the FDA. Most drugs cost more in the US - often double or even triple the price in other countries, making it difficult especially for the economically weaker elderly to acquire medications.

Illinois is now ready to join four other States in actually encouraging its residents to buy drugs from sources that do not overcharge. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is planning to initiate a website that will make it possible for residents of the State to find cheaper sources for one hundred of the most common drugs, according to an article in the New York Times.

The FDA opposes any such schemes, citing "safety concerns", apparently unaware that prescription drugs - the ones made in the US - are killing well over 100.000 Americans every year even though properly registered and prescribed and taken according to instructions. Drug-dependent modern medicine has become one of the major causes of death in the civilized world, certainly in the US.

No less than 44 drug companies have recently been sued by New York City's Attorney General for defrauding Medicaid - charging prices that are higher than even the existing lax rules allow, while former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell charges that drug prices, generally being justified by high costs of research, are really outrageous, driven by profits, not costs.

"In 2002, the biggest drug companies spent only about 14% of sales on research and development and 31% on what most of them call marketing and administration. They consistently make more in profits than they spend in R&D. And their profits are immense. In 2002, the combined profits of the 10 drug companies in the Fortune 500 were $35.9 billion. That's more than the profits for all the other 490 business put together, if you subtract losses from gains."

Here is what Monica Davey of the New York Times found out:

- - -

New York Times (link to article no longer active)

August 17, 2004

Illinois to Help Residents Buy Drugs From Canada, and Afar

CHICAGO, Aug. 16 - Opening a new front in the fight over the cost of prescription drugs, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois is preparing to help residents of his state buy cheaper medicines from Britain and Ireland, as well as Canada.

Aides to Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, said he would announce on Tuesday that Illinois would create a program, accessible on the Internet, so people could buy 100 of the most common drugs for 25 percent to 50 percent less than in most American drugstores.

Federal authorities say it is illegal to buy drugs from outside the United States, but since early this year, officials in at least four other states - Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wisconsin - have set up Web sites that link residents to Canadian pharmacies. Expanding the market to Britain and Ireland, Mr. Blagojevich's aides said, will spread demand beyond Canada, where some suppliers have reported shortages of certain drugs.

"The drug companies have pretty aggressively been shutting supplies to Canada, and we want to ensure that the supply will meet the demand," Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for Mr. Blagojevich, said. "Ultimately, they can't shut down supplies to the world to keep prices high in the United States."

William K. Hubbard, an associate commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, said Mr. Blagojevich's plan "sounds like yet another expansion of an effort to import unapproved drugs from foreign countries that will be illegal under U.S. law and will raise serious concerns on the part of the F.D.A."

The notion that Illinois was reaching even beyond Canada, Mr. Hubbard said, made matters worse. "The more they go into other countries, the more concerns we have," he said.

Illinois' move is the latest in what has become a political and economic standoff over how Americans buy their drugs: the F.D.A. and drug companies contend that medications from other countries may be counterfeit, mislabeled or otherwise unsafe, while a growing number of local and state officials argue that their residents must be allowed to buy the least expensive drugs.

Illinois plans to contract with a Canadian company to create a clearinghouse of more than 35 approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, Ireland and Britain. The state hopes to first reach the estimated 2.8 million Illinois residents who have no
prescription drug coverage. If only 100,000 of them bought drugs through the clearinghouse, they would save as much as $29 million a year, Ms. Ottenhoff said.

Wanda Moebius, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents drug makers, said Illinois would not be able to guarantee that drugs said to be from Britain or Ireland really came from there. "We have serious safety concerns," Ms. Moebius said.

The Illinois program is designed for state residents only. Customers will have to provide billing and shipping addresses in the state.

Minnesota, the first state to start a Web site, in late January, had 117,000 visitors to its site by the end of July. Other states are using different methods to press for change. Vermont authorities have announced that they plan to sue the F.D.A. for rejecting their plan to bring Canadian drugs to their residents.

"On this issue, you can see the waves lapping up at the fortress," said Gary C. Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics. "The question is, What will they do about these waves?"

The F.D.A. considers it illegal to buy drugs, or cause the sale of drugs, from other countries, but so far the agency has not taken legal action against states with Web sites that help people get drugs from abroad.

Mr. Hubbard said he could not say whether the agency might take legal action against Illinois because he had not seen details of its plan.

See also related articles:

Consumer organisations criticise influence of drug companies - British Medical Journal

Medical system is leading cause of death and injury in US

The Drug Profiteers

Selling Out to PhRMA

Pharmaceutical companies and their often dangerous products have been in the limelight for some time now. Here is a collection of previous articles on this site for further reading.

Drugmakers "Blackmail the Public"

Glaxo ensnared in £120m lawsuit over drugs 'cartel'

Brand-Name Drug Prices up 7.1 Percent in 2004, More Than Double Other Inflation

October 2006: U.S. eases up on mail-order Canadian meds
U.S. customs agents will stop seizing medications ordered by mail from Canada, a report says

The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday that Customs and Border Protection officials were under pressure from members of Congress, who were miffed about constituents whose medications were being intercepted.

Ordering prescription drugs from Canada has become an increasingly popular means for Americans, particularly senior citizens, to cut their monthly costs for medications.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Tuesday August 17 2004
updated on Friday December 10 2010

URL of this article:


Related Articles

Drug Companies spend $ millions lobbying
An Article by Robert Pear of the New York Times details the awsome lobbying force of the drug companies to fight ... lower prices for medicines. "Lobbyists for the drug industry are stepping up spending to influence Congress, the states and even foreign governments as the debate intensifies over how to provide prescription drug benefits to the elderly, industry executives say. Confidential budget documents from the leading pharmaceutical trade group... [read more]
June 03, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

Pharma Financing Front Groups: Political Lobby
Drug companies have been known to spend millions of dollars to influence Congress and government, but recently, a new twist has been added to the story. Public Citizen says that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has quietly given $ 41 million to "stealth PACs" in 2002 and failed to mention most of it to the IRS. The pharma-funded groups, which have innocent sounding names, such as 60... [read more]
September 30, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Consumer Drug Advertising Challenged - Ads Emphasise Sickness Not Prevention
Are direct-to-consumer adverts for pharmaceutical drugs turning the US into a nation of hypochondriacs? Spyros Andreopoulos, who is director emeritus of the Office of Communication and Public Affairs at Stanford University Medical Center, certainly seems to think so. Interestingly, the United States are, along with New Zealand, unique in the world for allowing such direct advertising and it appears that the U.S., with only 5 % of the world's population,... [read more]
November 29, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Drug Advertising Not Based on Facts
An investigation of the Institute for Evidence-Based Medicine, a private independent research institute in Cologne, has come to the conclusion that advertising of drugs is sorely lacking in scientific backup. With drug companies spending billions for promotion of their products, one wonders why they can't even get the science right. Unless of course ... the science is hard to get by because their remedies don't work too well. For sure... [read more]
March 31, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Pharma's tentacles in your pocketbook
30 July 2003 - The Pharma lobby took a beating last week when the US House of Representatives voted by a clear majority to curtail the price setting powers of the producers of medicines by passing a bill that would allow the importation into US territory of FDA approved drugs from other countries. Canada has lower drug prices than the US by a large margin and trips over the border... [read more]
July 30, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

Pharma Lobbies to Drug Kids in Schools - Citizens Resisting
Pharma interests have united with mental health organizations to push through legislation that would require mandatory testing and forced administration of drugs to kids in schools - without their parents' consent. Rep. Ron Paul, MD has introduced a bill that would prevent such an eventuality. If you live in the United States, please read on to see what you can do to protect your children. Remember school shootings? Many of... [read more]
May 11, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger




Readers' Comments

Dear Sir,
It is interesting to know that there is an increasing concern in cuntries like the United States regarding the exorbitant drug prices. However, given the health insurence schemes in U.S, the insurence companies are more likely to be anxious about the price increase. But, from this article what comes out is that it is the old people who are concerned more about the drug price. Is it that there is a diference in the health insurence policy covering the old population?

Posted by: Reji K Joseph on January 7, 2005 11:40 AM


not much to say except where is all the help that our political leaders keep telling us about each election year,shame on all of them for helping themselves after the elections and breaking all the promises that they made trying to get our votes

Posted by: Arthur Kemmet on January 16, 2005 06:13 PM


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The Individual Is Supreme And Finds Its Way Through Intuition


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These articles are brought to you strictly for educational and informational purposes. Be sure to consult your health practitioner of choice before utilizing any of the information to cure or mitigate disease. Any copyrighted material cited is used strictly in a non commercial way and in accordance with the "fair use" doctrine.



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