by Mike Masnick

Should We Be Able To Order Cheap Drugs From Canada?

from the government-supported-monopolies dept

As even local governments are starting to look to Canada to help people get the prescription drugs they need at a price they can afford, the federal government is stepping in to say "that's wrong". They don't give a very good reason, but they've come out with a statement saying that local governments that order cheaper drugs from Canada over the internet may be breaking the law. The best rationale they can come up with is that it says to people that it's okay to order drugs over the internet - which they're afraid is a health risk. Admittedly, there are plenty of online drug ordering scams - but if they can be shown to be legitimate, how can it be wrong to let people order drugs that cost a fraction of the price they would cost in the US? Isn't that what competition is supposed to be about?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2003 @ 11:07am

    THIS was the straw?

    I can't believe this is the straw that will break one's former confidence in Free Trade.

    Free Trade is an attempt to set up a commons with Canada and Mexico, pooling labour and other resources like Fish, Wood, Metals and Crops. In truth we have soft-wood and wheat tariffs, ridiculous work-visa regulations that stun any US resident and the spectacular raping of the cod/salmon stocks with NAFTA the baseball bat.

    NAFTA is mostly a mistake, those parts that are not already being contravened for the detriment of smaller member countries. Dissolve it and let us all know how things REALLY stand.

    This drug problem will be 'solved' by US tariffs again, just like the US tariff on steel, lumber, wheat and some base metals. The US people do NOT have a choice, a freedom to buy at lower prices, and there is no possible competition in there areas, but stillthe US populace has this fantasy that trade is free between countries.

    The smuggling of cigarettes in the Thousand Islands is greater 'free trade' than NAFTA already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2003 @ 11:16am

    No Subject Given

    It's all about politics and money ... course it always is. The drug companies are major players in DC and if americans can get drugs at 'other country' prices it will significantly cut into a pfizer,JNJ,Bristol_meyer-Squibb profit margin big time. Safety is NOT an issue. We american's tend to subsidize the discovery of drugs where poor companies can't afford them at 'retail' price.

    This will wind up being a question of who has more say in DC , The consumer or the Companies. I'd bet on the companies seeing how the countries being run by a bunch of republicans right now.

    What ever happened to the health care reform act ? Was it just that,,,, an act ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Costco, 28 Aug 2003 @ 11:21am

    Want to pay for my Mom's Medical costs ?

    My Mom is on several medications that if bought in the United States would cost her out of pocket well over $ 1,000 a month ... mainly because her pathetic insurance doesn't seem to " think " these medications should be covered. ( mainly because of the cost )
    The ironic part is she is a nurse and is well aware of what goes on in this country in regards to medical coverage.
    By ordering from Canda & even with shipping she is currently paying approximately $ 275.00 monthly. I'm glad she is technically literate and has found an alternative that allows my parents to save $ 8,700.00 a year, hopefully so they can retire and not attempt to live on " Social Security "
    Until our contry institues AFFORDABLE medical coverage for everyone, I don't care where she gets her medications.
    Anyone willing to send me $ 12,000 grand to keep her healthy is most welcome to.
    And I gladly circumvent my states unbelieveably high cigarette prices by ordering them from Indian territories.
    Capitalism lives !

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  • identicon
    Kevin, 28 Aug 2003 @ 12:01pm

    No Subject Given

    I've wondered about this. I'm sure somebody could find some easy answers to why drugs in some contries cost more in others but being lazy I'll attempt a guess. I really doubt the fundamental reasons are greed or conspiricy or whatever.

    I have no doubt that developing a drug and testing it costs absolute mountains of money. So where do they make the money back, as well as make the profit they probably deserve? Lets consider an american drug company. Its a safe bet we're usually talking about an american drug company. Since selling a drug in numerous foreign contries is probably a horrendious pain in the ass they probably set the consumers price in america as if its the only country in the world, to recoup their development costs and make some profit.

    Eventually, once the hurdles of selling in a foreign market are jumped they probably have to worry less about the profit margin in other countries so they can sell cheaper, and probably have to if that foriegn country isnt as wealthy as america. Dont forget the cost of making the drug is probably very low.

    Lets make a quick comparison. Lets say Adobe develops a new photoshop. Once they sell a bunch of copies to richer countries they might decide to sell it to china for 50 bucks a copy. How dare they sell it for so much here, I want the china price, they are obviously very greedy for charging me so much!!! Well consider that dumping it on china for 50 bucks is 50 bucks profit for nothing, since all they had to do was burn another cd. I suspect its more complicated, but similar, in the drug business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2003 @ 12:37pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      Think your a bit naive here. The comparison is more like Microsoft selling office in twaiian dirt cheap ... they are selling it cheap because that's what the customer will pay for it ... and no more. When presented with the higher price, they went to linux/open office etc rather than pay the steeper MS price. It's like dealing with a car salesman who is basically trying to make as much money as he can but in order to do so has to find a price you're willing to pay. The choice is take less profit or NO PROFIT. He takes less.

      The drug pricing is the same way. We here in USA are willing (actually pretty much Have to) pay the higher prices. Third world countries can't pay that much so the companies find a happy medium where they'll make lesser profit but still be able to sale their product. In poorer countries, the drugs are regulated to death like they are in the US so you can actually acquire cheaper knock offs though at that point you are taking a huge chance. But the point must be made here, if you can't afford a drug you need at the higher price, you'll buy what you hope is an equivalent at the lower price.

      The case where US citizens are basically buying back drugs from Canada where they get them at a cheaper price and therefore can sell them at a cheaper price presents an interesting conumdrum for the companies so they are trying to get the Government to enact law help them continue 'business as usual'.

      Stand by for 'creative' legal writs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 28 Aug 2003 @ 12:17pm

    No Subject Given

    In the case of Canada, the government is mandating the prices. Our prices in teh US are probably higher to some extent because we are covering for Canada.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kevin, 28 Aug 2003 @ 12:44pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      Sounds reasonable Chris. Makes me wonder if the u.s. government set drug costs what would happen to u.s. drug companies. Of course if we had national health care it would probably effectively be the same thing, having basically one big powerful customer. The former soviet union and china came out with some great drugs, not.

      If drug companies we're making as much profit as microsoft makes I'd have a problem, its about 10x for windows I believe, but otherwise, who am I to say what drug should cost what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2003 @ 12:58pm

    Myopic Canadian Politicians

    My problem is the politicians (Manitoba springs to mind) that think this exporting is a good thing. "It's job creation!". No no no no no. The pharmaceuticals sell drugs to us cheaper because we can't afford to pay what the Americans pay. If we continue to sell them across the border, the pharmas will just stop selling to us. Oops, can't get that new AIDS medication anymore, you'll have to import it from the States (paying their prices, in US$). Sigh, they'll (we'll) learn this the hard way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kevin, 28 Aug 2003 @ 2:01pm

      No Subject Given

      I suppose we can speculate all we want, including my posting above, but until we have actual figures (dev costs, profits, etc) we'll never know the truth, and whether its universal or on a drug by drug basis.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Twaddle dee, 28 Aug 2003 @ 9:52pm

    Some facts - don't know all

    Supposedly it takes $800 Million to bring a drug to market, and about ten, twelve years. The drug companies argue that if the inventive of reasonable returns is removed, those investments will disappear. This would reduce sig. research on diabetes (something like 100 million worldwide afflicted), cancer, alzheimers, etc. If current drugs are "good enough" for society, we can stop here (and have no new advances.) Europe, Canada and other countries have forced socialist price controls on drugs, and the result is that most to all research has fled to US. Imports are equivalent to price controls and so research will go to... China? North Korea? Mars?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NI, 29 Aug 2003 @ 1:12am

    jobs: offshore is great; our products:: don't you

    Some the same companies that are "off-shoring" jobs to save money don't want people to get their medicines from "off-shore"?


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      anonymous, 30 Oct 2003 @ 6:58am

      Re: jobs: offshore is great; our products:: don't

      many businesses in the us such as small home town businesses are going out of businesses because the insurance companies aren't paying the same prices. Such that people who also order their drugs from canada or through mail order is making our economy shift to an all time low in this category yes it would be cheaper ordering them through canada but would you want to feel safe when you receive your drugs that you can trust that your getting what you order instead of just relying on their word.

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