About the safety of medications imported from Canada

Dear Editor:

Most people who import “American” drugs from Canada are convinced that the federal government – politically beholden to special interests in the pharmaceutical industry – is, at the very least, disingenuous (I like to refrain from using the word lying!) in calling it unsafe.

In trying to tout the American public from betting on reimportation of “American” drugs from Canada, the government has declared that their forbidding such a practice is for the good of the people (the same people who import Absolut Vodka from Sweden, Toyotas from Japan and olives form Spain). Of course, if one cannot buy the drug because it is too expensive, that is really an “unsafe” practice.

But “American” companies are anything but; almost the entire pharmaceutical industry (like oil companies) is international with the principal locations being in foreign countries (RU486, the abortion pill was formulated in France because USA zealots were opposed to abortion and politicians were too squeamish to stand up for citizen rights – and that includes the Democrats!)

Our government seems to regard Canada as a third-world country which cannot be trusted to enact safeguards over medications. However, pharmaceutical giants have research and development locations in Canada. Wyeth, for example, has facilities in Markham (Ontario), St. Laurent (Quebec) and Mississauga (Ontario). Likewise, Pfizer has similar facilities in Canada, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. The list goes on, but you get the point.

It is not uncommon for Medicaid, the Veterans’ Association, federal and state government employees, and myself to receive discounts of 60 percent on prescription medications (they have the clout to bargain for these discounts!). But these “bargain-price” medications are only available to the average sap at retail!

And when prescriptions run the course of their lock on medications (about 17 years, which they need to recoup development costs), they provide them over the counter. For example, according to Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean, (eso)meprazole is marketed over the counter for $10 as Prilosec (formerly a prescription medication) and for $60 as Nexium (the new, but essentially same, prescription medication).

The people can be fooled some of the time – but that some is too much!

Frank X. Landrigan


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