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Canada Challenges U.S. to Block Cheap Drug Flow
    #2057016 - 10/30/03 02:11 PM (12 years, 11 months ago)


OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government has challenged the United States to block the flow of cheap prescription drugs from Canada if it thinks it is a problem, a senior health official said on Thursday.

The challenge was made in discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) as controversy swirls over the idea of U.S. seniors, cities and states filling their prescription needs in Canada.

"We have reminded the United States that they have responsibilities and they have authorities within their own country to stop the importatation of products within their own country, and have reminded them of their responsibilities in that regard," the official told a media conference call.

It is technically illegal under U.S. law to import drugs from foreign pharmacies. And while the FDA says imported drugs are risky and it would like the practice to stop, it has not yet moved to stop the flow.

Meanwhile, Canada has reinforced to the FDA that its drugs are safe and has asked it to provide evidence of any products coming in through Canada that do not meet Canadian regulations.

"To date, we have not received that evidence," the official said.

Canada's Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, Diane Gorman, was traveling to Washington on Thursday for a previously scheduled meeting with FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan.

The whole issue of Internet pharmacies, which are used to sell to the United States, was not on the agenda but was certain to come up during their talk, the Canadian official who briefed reporters said.

The Canadian government broke its public silence on the issue this week by calling on pharmacy and medical associations to condemn the Internet pharmacy practice and spoke of the risk that it could cause shortages in Canada -- though it said it had no evidence of this yet.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday that New York State could save $643 million a year by buying drugs from Canada for Medicaid patients.

He was the latest in a string of mayors and state governors who have started looking north for cheaper drugs.

Just another spore in the wind.

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