Friday, October 8, 2004

Importing drugs from Canada, which imports drugs from, where?

Watching the second presidential debate tonight, one question the voters need more information on is importation of drugs from Canada. Allow me to quote a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine:

""Pharmaceuticals valued at approximately $300 million (all amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars) were imported into Canada in 2002 [reference] from countries without mutual-recognition agreements about manufacturing practices. [reference] Twenty-five such countries (including China, India, Brazil, Hungary, Slovenia, Ecuador, Thailand, Croatia, Chile, South Africa, Argentina, and Indonesia) each exported $300,000 to $59 million worth of pharmaceuticals to Canada. [reference] In 2002, the value of imports from Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil were 264 percent, 296 percent, 500 percent, 501 percent, 512 percent, and 3270 percent higher, respectively, than they were in 1999. In the first three quarters of 2003, the value of imports from Iran increased to $1.5 million (a 2372 percent increase over the total value in 2002).

"Because drugs from Internet suppliers may originate outside Canada and the United States, neither government takes responsibility for their safety. Canada should take prompt action to prevent large-scale, unregulated, cross-border sales to avoid any negative outcomes from drugs whose origin is unclear and whose quality is unknown.""

Contrary to what Senator Kerry would have you think, drugs purchases in Canada are not necessarily made in the Unites States. You're indirectly buying them from Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, and Iran.

Consider the following as well: is importation of drugs from Canada sustainable? There's good reason to think not:

""The mass exportation of prescription medication to the United States threatens the preferential pricing set by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.2 Companies may also choose not to market medication in Canada in order to protect the larger and more lucrative U.S. market.3 At risk is nothing less than the ability of countries to set their own policy regarding pharmaceuticals. The availability of Canadian medication is not a viable long-term solution to the problems of drug costs in the United States and represents a substantial threat to the access and affordability of drugs in Canada." [NEJM]"

12 October 2004: Brian Carnell responds here.

NEJM -- Prescription-Drug Prices

NEJM -- Election 2004: Prescription-Drug Prices (available free):

""At first blush, Kerry's positions appear to be more "consumer friendly" than Bush's. Kerry supports policies that create stronger downward pressure on prescription-drug prices than Bush's policies do. This more aggressive stance toward controlling today's drug prices must be considered in light of the effect of lower prices on the flow of new drugs that will be available to the next generation of consumers. Bush supports policies that protect the existing drug-price structures in the name of ensuring adequate economic incentives to innovate.

"The United States is entering uncharted waters in both of these key areas — the importation of prescription drugs and the role of the government in controlling their cost. A voter's choice between the candidates might well be guided by philosophy and a sense of whether profits in the pharmaceutical industry are high enough so that reductions in drug prices would not substantially impede the development of future drugs.

"Importation would have some predictable consequences: U.S. prices would decrease, the world would move toward a single price for a given drug, and Canada and Europe would probably make larger contributions toward the cost of research and development. The magnitude of the financial gain in the United States, however, is uncertain; my guess is that there would be modest price reductions for consumers in the United States and substantial price increases for Europeans and Canadians." "

The fly in the ointment here is the American health consumer's desire to have the best medical care in the world, have it for free, and have it now. I think they like the idea that drugs will be cheaper---even if it means having fewer 'new' drugs going forward. There are great drugs in the pipeline. Great new ideas for how to better treat asthma and diabetes and heart disease. They'll still be there, but will it be as soon if we reduce the premium drug companies charge for new drugs? I don't think so. I personally would favor streamlining the drug approval process and shortening the time until generics are available first.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 Reviews Vice-Presidential Facts Cheney & Edwards Mangle Facts

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Let's Be Clear: Edwards Sued Doctors

Just one note on the debate before bed. John Edwards would you have you believe he's proud of representing the underprivileged against drug companies and insurance companies. He may have done some of that, but his specialty was suing doctors; most often for cerebral palsy and 'birth trauma'. (A causality which has been disproved.)

[via Overlawyered]

Financial Data on 527 Plans

TaxProf Blog has Financial Data on 527 Groups:

  • Top 20 Organizational Contributors to 527 Groups
  • Top 20 Individual Contributors to 527 Groups
  • List of Section 527 Groups that are "Major Players" in the 2004 Election


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