Support for Drug Imports Growing

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), April 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Support for Drug Imports Growing


Byline: From Register-Guard and news service reports

WASHINGTON - Support for legalizing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada is growing in Congress amid an election-year clamor from states, lawmakers and the elderly.

The White House and Republican congressional leaders remain opposed, saying there is no way to ensure safety. Nonetheless, proponents contend that public frustration with skyrocketing drug prices and growing defiance of a federal ban on prescription imports will force action before the November elections.

The latest legislation to allow Americans to fill their prescriptions in Canada was introduced Wednesday by a diverse group of Republican and Democratic senators. It would eventually allow drugs to be imported from 20 industrialized countries, mainly Europe.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, one of its sponsors, said the bill ``is a recognition of reality'' that also assures safety by limiting imports to drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration and manufactured at FDA-inspected plants.

Several cities and states facing budget crises already have turned to Canada to buy prescription drugs for workers or made it easier for residents to hook up with Canadian Internet pharmacies.

In Oregon, the State Board of Pharmacy has launched investigations of more than a dozen Oregon-based businesses that help people get their prescriptions filled in Canada. The agency has sent warning letters threatening steep fines and has started issuing subpoenas for the storefront operations' business records.

Canada Drug Supply, with storefronts in Eugene and Springfield, announced earlier this week that it will close April 30 rather than turn over records and potentially face fines. Similar outlets in Bend and Roseburg are also under scrutiny. …

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