Councilman Daniel Rickenmann

“These aren’t FDA-regulated drugs. Just like with wine, there’s a high end and a low end. The low end is cheaper for a reason.”

Councilman Rickenmann said this in opposition to importing prescription drugs from Canada. Let’s examine the councilman’s ridiculous attempt to cast doubt on the quality of lower-priced Canadian drugs.

Councilman Rickenmann’s first sentence is correct. Fortunately for Canadians, all prescription drugs in Canada are regulated by Health Canada, not the FDA. Health Canada standards are stricter than FDA standards. There is no “fast track” approval and Health Canada often pulls harmful drugs off the market faster than the FDA.

For example, in the 1950’s, Canada pulled birth defect causing Thalidomide off the market almost a year before the FDA finally acted. The depression treatment drug Serzone has already been pulled off the market in Canada and Western Europe because of possible liver damage but the generic equivalent continues to be sold in the United States with full FDA approval.

Perhaps if the FDA spent more time in the lab than they did on the road acting as big pharma’s public relations division, they might be able to keep up with Canada and Western Europe.

Councilman Rickenmann’s second and third sentences are, of course, absolute nonsense.

The price of wine depends on appellation, vintage, grape variety and other factors which alter the chemical composition (and thus qualities such as aroma and flavor) of the wine.

A certain drug, on the other hand, has the same active ingredients, strength and dosage – be it American, Canadian or generic equivalent. In some cases, the drug may look different in Canada but it is the same drug with identical active ingredients. If you are buying from a legitimate pharmacy, there is no “low end” or “high end” for prescription drugs in terms of quality, only in price.

While I disagree with councilman Rickenmann’s unenlightened attempt to cast doubt on the quality of Canadian drugs, I do agree that they are cheaper for a reason – several reasons, in fact. To find out more, please read Why are Canadian Drug Prices Lower?

Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer

“A drug that one cannot afford is neither safe nor effective.”

Editor’s Note:

The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that nearly thirty (30) percent of Americans over sixty who are prescribed drugs do not fill their prescriptions because they cannot afford to.

This quote by Dr. Schondelmeyer was originally posted to Canada Drug Talk on February 23rd, 2004, but I decided to repost it with this information from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

August 22, 2004

Congressman Peter DeFazio

“I am pleased the Governor is taking action to relieve Oregonians from the debilitating costs of pharmaceutical drugs.  While reimportation is not a panacea, it will help ease the stress on seniors and others who can’t afford to fill their prescriptions and pay their bills every month. While the Bush administration, in concert with well-connected drug companies have resorted to scare tactics, claiming reimported drugs from Canada were unsafe, the truth is that the drug supply chain in Canada is safer and more closely regulated than the drug supply chain in the U.S.”

Mr. DeFazio was commenting on Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski’s plan to import prescription drugs from Canada.

Source: Gov Pushes Feds on Canadian Drug Imports (Bend Bugle / August 19th, 2004)

August 20, 2004

Senator John F. Kerry

“Seniors deserve prescription drugs that are affordable, and they shouldn’t be banned from buying less expensive drugs from Canada. We deserve better, and we can do better!”

Source: Medicare Law No Sure Fire Winner – Elderly Unhappy with Results (Pioneer Press, August 15th, 2004)

August 15, 2004

Brian Schweitzer

“Prescription drug prices are out of control.  In America, you shouldn’t have to be rich just to afford your medicine.”

Source: Schweitzer Offers Drug Plans (Billings Gazette / August 13th, 2004)

August 13, 2004

Senator John F. Kerry

“This isn’t fair competition. It’s a monopoly and its been put in place by George Bush and his friends and it’s costing you a whole bunch of money and it’s wrong.”

Senator Kerry was speaking at a community center in Henderson, Nevada, where he attacked the new Medicare prescription-drug bill as a giveaway to pharmaceutical companies and said Americans should be allowed to import cheaper drugs from Canada. Kerry read from a price list of widely used prescription drugs that showed Americans paying upwards of three times as much as Canadians.

Source: Kerry, Bush Trade Barbs Across Southwest (The Repository / August 12th, 2004)

August 12, 2004

Senator Edward Kennedy

“For many medicines, price increases in just the last 12 months have already wiped out any savings that these (Medicare) cards may provide. The Bush Medicare bill is a sweetheart deal for big drug companies and a raw deal for senior citizens.”

Source: The Bush Prescription (Independent Media TV / August 8th, 2004)

August 09, 2004

Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth

“Those who get their prescriptions through the VA pay a $7 co-pay. That’s because the VA negotiates on behalf of all veterans. Yet we specifically prohibited Medicare from doing that for no good reason. For no good reason related to consumers and taxpayers.  There is rightful skepticism that the pharmaceutical industry isn’t just making a profit. They’re making a killing.”

Source: Herseth Spells Out Plan to Cap Drug Premiums (Rapid City Journal / August 7th, 2004)

August 08, 2004

Montgomery County Council

“Canada’s drug system is one of the world’s safest. The concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration and by the pharmaceutical industry are bogus, plain and simple… We have great respect for the FDA. However, the FDA is letting politics drive its science. Twice Congress has directed the agency to design a program for the safe re-importation of Canadian drugs. So far, nothing.”

Source: Bring the Drugs from Canada (Washington Post / August 7th, 2004)

August 07, 2004

Rep. Lois Capps

“Seniors and the disabled – not the pharmaceutical companies – were supposed to be the beneficiaries of Medicare modernization.”

Mrs. Capps said this after finding that seniors using the new Medicare drug discount cards are paying substantially more for prescriptions than if they used the Internet to buy drugs from Canada.  Medicare modernization not only failed to provide savings for seniors, it protects pharmaceutical companies because it bars Medicare from negotiating drug prices (like the government is able to do for federal agencies).

Source: Medicare Drug Cards Don’t Save, Capps Says (Santa Barbara News Press / August 6th, 2004)

August 07, 2004

Gary Passmore, Executive Director of the Congress of California Seniors

“California seniors and consumers have been misled. They have been frightened by drug makers and misled by the FDA with claims that drugs from Canada are not safe.”

Mr. Passmore was a member of a legislative fact-finding mission to Canada. The delegation – made up of California health officials, political aides and senior advocates – found that drugs on the shelves all had identification numbers indicating that Health Canada had approved them. They also found that pharmacists asked for patients’ medical histories and analyzed the possibility of bad drug interactions when filling customer orders. The delegation concluded that prescription drugs purchased through Canadian Internet pharmacies are safe.

Source: Group Says Canadian Drugs Safe (Contra Costa Times / August 5th, 2004)

August 05, 2004

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio

“We have free trade when jobs are being taken overseas, but not to bring drugs into this country from Canada.”

Source: DeFazio Criticizes Medicare Cards (The News Review / August 4th, 2004)

August 04, 2004

Andy Troszok – President of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association

“You can make reimportation legal tomorrow, but if Canada can’t supply, it’s pretty much meaningless.”

Mr. Troszok was referring to American drug manufacturers cutting off Canadian drug supplies in an attempt to deny US seniors access to cheaper prescription drugs. If you would like to help seniors living on a fixed income get the drugs they need at a reasonable price, please support the Dorgan-Snow bill now before the senate. This bill not only legalizes reimportation from Canada but also penalizes manufacturers who try to manipulate international drug supplies.

Source: The Miami Herald / August 4th, 2004

August 04, 2004

Senator Deborah Ortiz

“Much of the opposition to Canadian Internet pharmacies comes from large pharmaceutical companies that are floating unfounded horror stories about buying medication online.”

Source: Californians Like Our Net Pharmacies (The Winnipeg Sun / July 28th, 2004)

August 02, 2004

Scott McKibbin, Illinois Special Advocate for Prescription Drugs

“In Canada, a pharmacist only has to count to one.”

Mr. McKibbin was referring to the practice of U.S. pharmacists counting out the number of pills to fill prescriptions.  A team of doctors, pharmacists and public health professionals toured pharmacies in Canada.  They found that Canadian pharmacies are safer because they dispense drugs only in packages pre-sealed by the manufacturers.  That reduces the possibility of a pharmacist providing counterfeit drugs or mixing the wrong pills into the prescription.  They also found that safety requirements in Canada are equal to, and sometimes stricter than, regulations in U.S. and Illinois law.

Source: Illinois’ Drug Chief Talks to W.Va. Panel About Canada Plan (The Charleston Gazette, July 29th, 2004)

July 29, 2004

Peter Wycoff, Minnesota Senior Federation

“Literally, it’s our belief as the Senior Federation that the Canadian drug supply is safer than the U.S. drug supply.”

Source: Minnesotans Take On Big Pharma (Pulse of the Twin Cities, July 28th, 2004)

July 29, 2004

Peter Wycoff, Minnesota Senior Federation

“It’s one of the very few areas of the health industry, even in America, that doesn’t have some sort of regulation. We have a market system here that doesn’t work; you don’t have competition, you have over 50 percent of basic research being funded by the public; you have legalized monopolies through patent laws. Every other country in the industrialized world has said somewhere along the line that there ought to be some balance in the costs of these needed life-saving medications for its citizens.”

Source: Minnesotans Take On Big Pharma (Pulse of the Twin Cities, July 28th, 2004)

July 28, 2004

Senator Patrick Leahy

“Prescription drugs are a lifeline, not a luxury.”

July 16, 2004

Rep. Bernie Sanders

“I will not ever forget the trip I took to Montreal in 1999, where women who were struggling with breast cancer were able to buy Tamoxifen, a widely prescribed breast cancer drug, at one-tenth the price they were forced to pay at home. This, Mr. Chairman, is nothing short of a moral outrage and if the (drug) industry had any shame whatsoever it would have discontinued such egregious price-gouging on its own years ago.”

Source: Vermont Congressmen Lead Fight for Drug Imports (Bennington Banner / July 15, 2004)

July 15, 2004

Robert Fraser: Director of Pharmacy at CanadaDrugs.com

“(American pharmaceutical companies) are holding everybody hostage. They’re holding Americans hostage with the prices they’re charging in the United States. They’re bordering on obscene. That’s why a lot of Americans turn to Canada.”

Said in regard to the crackdown by Pfizer and other American pharmaceutical companies on Canadian pharmacies that export to American consumers.

Source: U.S., Industry Crack Down on Drug Importation (News Day)

July 06, 2004

Senator Carl Levin

“Medicines purchased from Canada are as safe or safer than those purchased in the United States.”

Senator Carl Levin made the comment after the General Accounting Office (the investigative arm of Congress) reported that all 18 Canadian sites they tried to purchase drugs from required consumers to supply a physician-written prescription before filling orders whereas only 5 of 29 U.S. pharmacies did.

Narcotic Buys Easy Online, GAO Finds (Source: Dallas News / June 17, 2004)
June 17, 2004.

David MacKay: Director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association

“If you’re going to rip the product out of grandma’s hands then you should be prepared to take the public relations consequences, law or not.”

Link to Article Removed (Dead Link)

April 14, 2004.

Congressman Gil Gutknecht

“We know how many people have died from taking drugs from other countries. It’s a nice round number. It’s easy to remember. It’s zero. We know that you are more likely to become seriously ill from eating raspberries from Guatemala from the government’s statistics than you are from taking prescription drugs from Canada. We know today that five people in Western Pennsylvania have died from green onions from Mexico, and yet we know of no one who has died from taking prescription drugs from Canada or Mexico, and so the safety argument I think is widely and wildly exaggerated…”

Source: Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Drug Importation, November 20, 2003
(Warning: PDF File)

Note: This transcript was created by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It was originally hosted on their website (http://www.kaisernetwork.org/health_cast/uploaded_files/112003_senatecom_di_transcr.pdf) but on April 19, 2004, I discovered it to be a broken link. As a service to our readers, I have taken the liberty of providing a mirror file on CanadaDrugTalk. If the original link comes back online I will reinstate it as soon as possible and remove this mirrored file. Please contact me if you are the copyright owner and would like me to remove it from CanadaDrugTalk. Thank you for your kind understanding.

February 27, 2004.

Robert Becker

“There has never been one documented incident of an American that has suffered any form of injury by medication re-imported from Canada. Yet Big Pharma and political opponents of drug re-importation from Canada continue to fear monger the issue of safety. Big pharma is actually creating safety issues by limiting Americans access to their products with their price gouging.”

February 23, 2004.