Magazine article Drug Topics

NAFTA Not Likely to Threaten Pharmacist Jobs but

Magazine article Drug Topics

NAFTA Not Likely to Threaten Pharmacist Jobs but

Article excerpt

Passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement doesn't mean that foreign pharmacists can just hop across the border and set up shop as some American R.Ph.s had feared, but questions remain about the pact.

Under NAFTA, foreign pharmacists will still have to meet the educational, licensure, and residency criteria set by the individual states, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor has assured the American Pharmaceutical Association and 18 other health-care professional groups that had jointly raised the issue.

Left hanging at this early juncture is whether mail-order pharmacies in Canada or Mexico will be able to ship into the United States. Leveraged by much lower drug prices, those foreign firms could economically undercut American pharmacies. The answer to that concern hasn't been found yet, but John Cronin, v.p./legal affairs, California Pharmacists Association said a letter of inquiry has been sent to Kantor, with a copy to Food & Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler.

"I own a pharmacy in San Diego County, and a lot of people travel to Tijuana, buy their medications, and come back," said Cronin, an R.Ph. and attorney. "Drugs are sold so much cheaper there than in the United States. If a Mexican pharmacy is allowed to ship prescription drugs across the border with their price advantage, it could severely affect a lot of retail pharmacy businesses."

Cross-border shoppers: Pharmacists in southern Texas are also dealing with cross-border Rx drug shoppers, said Richard Beck, assistant executive director, Texas Pharmaceutical Association. …

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