Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Canadian Dreamin'

Health Canada vows to crack down on fake pills, as the unfortunate case of Marcia Ann Bergeron continues to raise awareness about counterfeit drugs.

What, no statement from my good friend Senator Byron Dorgan? As you may recall, he attached The Legalized Diversion and Support of Drug Counterfeiting Act of 2007 to the drug safety bill earlier this year. Luckily, his move was narrowly defeated two months ago.

Importation from Canada is diversion, plain and simple. Drug diversion is the primary way that counterfeit drugs get into legitimate pharmacies. Thus, importation will open up new gateways for counterfeits, even though it won’t even save much money.

I hope that our pro-importation politicians are paying attention.

Many so-called Canadian pharmacies are not actually in Canada and many drugs sold online are counterfeit. Yet people still buy drugs online from unscrupulous sellers. Where do you think Al Gore III got his Vicodin?

If young Al’s 100 mph Prius drag race isn’t scary enough, then read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s fascinating 8-part series about a father-son duo that imported bulk drugs from India and then fulfilled huge orders for online pharmacies. I summarized their scheme last November in Of Spammers and Senators, noting that we can never be sure where "Canadian" pharmacies are getting their supplies.

So I was especially disappointed to read that four people died after taking counterfeit Norvasc dispensed from a local Canadian pharmacy. According to the article cited above: “The pharmacist was acquitted this spring, though, after a judge concluded there was no evidence that he sold the drugs knowing they were counterfeit. The druggist said he had bought them from a traveling salesman.” Say what?!?

Do our politicians understand these risks? Doubtful, although at least Senator Dorgan can finally be true to himself when blocking Canadian imports now.

ADDENDUM (7/26/07)

Sigh. Another day, another batch of counterfeits discovered. Chinese police seized more than a tonne of fake drugs for impotence, bird flu and malaria, including at least 18,000 fake Viagra tablets, according to this Reuters story.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that some drugs sold online are counterfeits, whether claiming to be from Canada or America. But purchasing drugs from unlicensed, shady pharmacies whether they are in the US or in Canada is not recommended.

    Canada has almost identical quality and safety standards as here in the United States and in many cases, it is a US made drug on the Canadian shelves. The only difference is Canada negotiates its drug prices with big pharma, and keeps all drugs both generic and name brand similar in price.

    You are right, in some cases US drugs are actually cheaper than those from Canada, namely generic drugs. However name brand drugs without generic alternatives are more often than not cheaper in Canada.

    Canadian pharmacies can accidentally serve counterfeit drugs just the same as an American pharmacy can. It matters only if the pharmacy is licensed, reliable, safe and legitimate. If you were going to purchase prescription drugs in your hometown, wouldn’t you go to the most reputable pharmacy with the cheapest prices?

    The only reason that the US has not allowed importation,is to protect the monopoly big pharma has on the American drug market.