Senior Citizens Cross the Border for Drugs

By Cholewa, Kate | The Progressive, February 2000 | Go to article overview

Senior Citizens Cross the Border for Drugs


Cholewa, Kate, The Progressive


Great Falls, Montana

On November 19, forty senior citizens boarded a bus for Canada. They were heading north to buy drugs. Cheap drugs.

Across the border, seniors can purchase up to three months worth of their U.S.-made and packaged prescription medicines. In Canada, the drugs cost 20 to 50 percent less than in the United States. By crossing the border, these seniors saved $3,553.00 altogether on their medications.

The "Run for the Border" was organized by Montana Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Brian Schweitzer. The seniors were protesting what they call price-gouging by pharmaceutical companies.

Senior citizens are particularly affected by the high cost of prescription drugs. Many live on fixed incomes. Medicare, which seniors rely on for medical coverage, does not cover outpatient prescriptions. And the cost of the medications seniors most frequently purchase is on the rise--taking off at more than four times the rate of inflation during the last year, according to Hard to Swallow: Rising Drug Prices for America's Seniors, a report by the Washington, D.C., group Families USA. A September 1999 study by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee staff found that Americans pay 81 percent more than do Canadians on the top ten drugs--including Zocor, Prilosec, Procardia, Zoloft, and Norvasc--most widely used by seniors. …

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