Fiction: Canadian Pharmacists are Not Accessible

American pharmacists that oppose reimportation would have you believe that Canadian pharmacists are not accessible. For example, Binghamton pharmacist Michael M. Perhach III had this to say in a recent editorial:

When patients need a pharmacist, they can talk to one locally. How accessible are the mail-order pharmacists?  If you have dealt with mail order you know the disturbing answer — they’re hard to access, at best.

Obviously, this gentleman has not had the pleasure of dealing with any of the Canadian pharmacies in our list.  All provide a toll-free number and all have pharmacists on hand to answer patient questions.

This will be the case with all reputable Canadian pharmacies.

If your mail-order pharmacy does not have a readily-accessible pharmacist on hand to answer questions, then you need to reconsider your choice in mail-order pharmacies.  There is a chance that the firm you are dealing with may not even be Canadian so a quick review of Tips for Buying Prescription Drugs Online may be in order.

Originally Posted May 26, 2006

Fiction: Terrorists may Tamper with Prescription Drugs from Canada

Acting U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford said possible action by terrorists is the most serious of his concerns about the increasing efforts of states and cities to import drugs from Canada to save money.

Fortunately for all of us, the threat of terrorists tampering with Canadian drugs exists only in the mind of Mr. Crawford. It is not based on any facts or evidence whatsoever. Let’s take a closer look at this latest piece of fiction from the once-proud FDA.

According to an article published in the Guardian on August 12th, 2004:

“Cues from chatter” gathered around the world are raising concerns that terrorists might try to attack the domestic food and drug supply, particularly illegally imported prescription drugs, acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester M. Crawford says.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Crawford said Wednesday that he had been briefed about al-Qaida plans uncovered during recent arrests and raids, but declined further comment about any possible threats.

On the same day that the article was published, the U.S. Homeland Security Department contradicted Crawford’s statement by saying it has received “no specific information” of such a threat:

“While we must assume that such a threat exists generally, we have no specific information now about any al-Qaida threats to our food or drug supply.”

David MacKay, Executive Director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, said that Mr. Crawford’s suggestion is absurd:

“This is just one more piece of rhetoric. It is a classic scare tactic that comes from the (FDA). They seem to be running out of objections and this seems to be the last card they’re willing to play.”

It seems that the “cues from chatter” gathered around the world were nothing more than cues from the chatter inside Mr. Crawford’s head.

While Mr. Crawford is entitled to his fantasies, Canada Drug Talk is deeply saddened and concerned that the acting commissioner of the FDA would resort to such tactics in a naked attempt to protect the profits of US drug companies. It is truly a sad state of affairs when a government body sworn to protect consumers betrays everyone’s trust by spreading baseless allegations and using fear as a weapon against senior citizens trying to lower rising drug costs by importing prescription drugs from Canada.


Drug Terrorism Absurd: Internet Group – Deemed a Desperate USFDA Scare Tactic (Dead Link) (Source: The Winnipeg Sun / August 13th, 2004)
FDA Warns of Terrorist Drug Tampering (Source: The Guardian / August 12th, 2004) (Dead Link)
Bush’s FDA Chief Seeks to Panic America – Warnings of Terrorist Drug Tampering (Source: / August 12th, 2004) (Dead Link)

Originally Posted August 17, 2004

Fiction: Canadian Authorities Do Not Inspect Drugs Bound for US Customers

Opponents of Canada drug importation try to scare seniors by telling us that Canadian authorities do not inspect medicines that are transshipped through their country bound for U.S. consumers.

This is a lie. It is nothing more than baseless fear-mongering.

Drugs imported (for sale in Canada or for subsequent export) must ALL be approved by Health Canada and meet the requirements of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and Regulations (which are on par with or better than FDA Regulations). They must be properly labelled with a valid Drug Identification Number (DIN) and be manufactured at a plant compliant with Canada’s GMP Regulatory Requirements. Health Canada and Canada Border Services Agency enforce these requirements. Anyone importing drugs for sale in Canada or for further export are also required to hold an Establishment Licence.  Exporting drugs that are not approved for sale in Canada is strictly prohibited.

An exemption is available to drug manufacturers who fabricate in Canada and sell a drug solely for export. These manufacturers certify under oath that the product being exported complies with the Regulations of the target country of import. This exemption avoids unnecessarily subjecting them to Canada’s Regulations because they have already complied with the Regulations of the importing country.

This is important so let me state it again:

This exemption can only be used by drug manufacturers in Canada for drugs fabricated in Canada solely for export. This exemption cannot be used by pharmacists, drug wholesalers or individuals.

In other words, Canadian authorities do not distinguish between domestic and export sales – drugs bound for US customers are inspected and strictly monitored by Canadian authorities in accordance to Regulations that are on par with or better than FDA Regulations.


Health Canada Submission to the US HHS Task Force on Importation (Source: Medical News Today)< Originally Posted June 19, 2004.

Fiction: Each New Drug Costs $800 Million Dollars to Develop

Opponents of Canada drug imports are fond of saying that each new drug costs $800 million dollars to develop. Let’s take a closer look at this oft-quoted (but rarely examined) figure.

For years, the drug industry claimed that each new drug cost $500 million to develop. A study by a Tufts University research institute (which, by the way, received most of its funding from the drug industry) upped this figure to $800 million.

Both estimates, however, are grossly inflated.

The drug industry counts the opportunity cost of capital, not actual cash outlays. This tends to inflate the estimate by 50 percent.

Their analysis does not reduce the costs of R&D by one-third – the amount that is tax deductible.

Their analysis only looks at the most innovative drugs (which happen to be the most expensive). Unfortunately, most “new” drugs are not innovative at all – they fall into the “me-too” category and usually contain the same active ingredient as existing drugs.

Taking these facts into consideration, the truth is closer to no more than $240 million dollars per new drug – a fraction of drug industry claims.

To find out more, please read The $800 Million Pill : The Truth behind the Cost of New Drugs in our Required Reading section.

Would Lower Prescription Drug Prices Curb Drug Company Research & Development? (Source: Public Citizen)

Originally Posted June 09, 2004.

Fiction: Drug Shortages in Canada

Opponents of Canada drug imports claim that the cross-border drug trade has caused drug shortages in Canada.  Their claims, however, are based on anecdote and there is no evidence to support these claims.

No Evidence

According to Krista Apse, a spokeswoman for Health Canada: “To date we have no evidence of Internet pharmacies posing an unacceptable health risk to consumers or of a shortage (of drugs) in Canada because of this practice.”

Diane Gorman, Assistant Deputy Minister with Health Canada stated: “No jurisdiction had reported drug shortages as a result of the practice of Internet pharmacy.”

Even Barbara Wells, director of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, an opponent of the cross-border drug trade, acknowledged that all the evidence of scarcities to consumers in Canada is so far anecdotal and added that if any shortage existed, “there is nothing to say concretely that it is tied to the Internet industry.”

Opponents Provide Media with Biased, Anecdotal and Misleading Information

The Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) said that opponents of cross-border drugs “are giving the media biased and anecdotal examples of specific shortages of products that are caused by worldwide interruption of supply stemming from manufacturer’s production issues. Yet, they continue to try to erroneously link these rare shortages to the practice of international prescription services.”

For example, opponents have referred to specific shortages of drugs like Chronovera, Dilantin and Arthrotec and blamed the interrupted supply on Canadian Internet pharmacies.  A newsletter of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association, however, revealed that: “shortly, all pharmacies will receive information regarding switching patients from Chronovera to other sustained verapamil products. The switch was made necessary due to interruption of supply of Chronovera from the manufacturer (Pharmacia) until January 2004.”

An Alberta pharmacist said that the claims of opponents are “pathetic because as any good pharmacist knows these rare shortages are due to worldwide supply issues related to the manufacturer and have nothing to do with us.”

Marcia Thompson, Assistant Deputy Minister of Manitoba Health stated: “Manitoba Health researches all reports it receives of any drug shortages, and while there are several reasons the supply of pharmaceuticals might be disrupted, we have found no evidence suggesting they might be attributable in Internet operations.”

Canadians Come First

In the unlikely event of drug shortages, Canadians would come first.  According to the Canadian Internet Pharmacy Association: “CIPA has pledged that, if a real drug shortage does indeed occur and is reported by Health Canada, its members will serve Canadians first to demonstrate that the health and well being of Canadians is the highest priority.”  A CIPA pharmacist in Calgary added: “In the event there was a real shortage of a prescription drug and one of our member pharmacies had supply, that drug would be made available to Canadians first.”


Medicare Bill Seen by Some as Win for Drug Lobby Link Removed (Dead Link)
Canadian International Pharmacy Association Requests Evidence of Alleged Drug Shortage in Canada

Originally Posted March 03, 2004.

Fiction – Canadian Drugs are Not Safe

Many articles in the media give the false impression that Canadian drugs are not safe.  Sadly, this is even the impression one gets after visiting the usually reliable and informative website of the Food and Drug Administration.  Personally, we find this surprising and, given the fact that the FDA is a champion when it comes to stamping out perpetrators of health fraud who prey on those of us over sixty, it literally breaks our hearts.

Canadian Drugs Meet or Surpass FDA’s Quality Control Guidelines

The Congressional Research Service found that medications manufactured and distributed in Canada meet or surpass quality-control guidelines set by the FDA.  You can read their memorandum “Questions Concerning the U.S. and Canadian Regulatory Systems for Approving and Distributing Prescription Drugs” here (Warning: 1MB PDF File) (Dead Link).  Most experts agree that Health Canada is more rigorous than the FDA.  There is no “fast track” approval in Canada.  Canadian drug stores must always have a Canadian physician review any prescription from the United States.  Frank Kaiser of said “I firmly believe there is no safer place to buy pharmaceuticals than from a registered Canadian drug store.”

No Evidence of Safety Problems

Although the FDA, drug companies and local pharmacies claim that importing drugs from Canada presents safety problems, they have yet to provide any evidence whatsoever to back this claim.  In the words of Rep. Bernard Sanders, “Here you have the industry and, pathetically, the FDA, spending huge amounts of money talking about safety, while they cannot even name one individual who has been harmed by such purchases.”  Even Tom McGinnis, the FDA’s director of pharmacy affairs, said “I can’t think of one thing off the top of my head where somebody died or somebody got put in the hospital because of these medications.”


Congressional Research Service – Questions Concerning the U.S. and Canadian Regulatory Systems for Approving and Distributing Prescription Drugs (Warning: 1MB PDF) (Dead Link)

Legal Code:
Health Canada Acts and Regulations
Health Canada Food and Drugs Act (Dead Link)

Lawmakers: Drugs Sold In Canada Are Identical (Dead Link)
The FDA Huffs, but Canadian Drugs Are OK (Source: NewsDay) (Dead Link)

Originally Posted February 23, 2004.