With AARP out lobbying Congress for importation from “Canadian” pharmacies, I thought it would be worthwhile to take another look at this practice and separate the political hype in Washington from the reality.
The news out yesterday from Canada is that importation plummeted in 2006, down 50% from 2005. Presumably this is due to the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, in which consumers are finding it cheaper to stay in the U.S., particularly for generics drugs, which remain cheaper south of the border. If consumers do not find the practice advantageous, why push for it (the free market system is a wonderful approach for telling us what consumers actually want)? However, the AARP lobbying juggernaut continues. This seems to be driven more by AARP's need to be perceived as "doing something" about prescription drug prices, than any real need that exists in the market.
In a study on “Canadian” Internet pharmacies presented during DCAT Week, over 11,000 Internet pharmacies represent themselves as being from Canada. The reality from the study is that approximately 250 were actually in Canada, or only 2.2%. Put differently, 97.8 percent of “Canadian” internet pharmacies aren’t really Canadian. So where are they from?
Of those internet pharmacies trying to pass themselves off as Canadian, countries included Mexico, Greece, Belize, China, Brazil and India. In fact, many of the countries were the same ones named in the recent United Nations report on counterfeit drugs. In many instances, it was impossible to tell the country of origin.