(Host) Safety is one of the key issues in Vermont’s legal challenge to a federal ban on Canadian drug imports. The government and the pharmaceutical lobby say there’s a serious risk to the public.
But New Hampshire studied one Canadian pharmacy and found that it met high standards of safety and quality. Now, the Douglas administration wants to learn more about New Hampshire’s experience.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) In Canada, prescription drugs can be 80 percent cheaper than identical products in the U.S. So New Hampshire provides an Internet link to a mail order service in Winnipeg called CanadaDrugs.com.
But the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry have tried to cast doubt on the safety of importing drugs from Canada. Wanda Moebius is a spokeswoman for Pharma, the industry’s main lobbying group. She says there’s no way to tell where the drugs are coming from.
(Moebius) “What we’re finding are that countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Pakistan are sending drugs not for sale to Canadians but for the sole purpose of re-sale to Americans. And because those drugs are not for sale to Canadians, the Canadian equivalent of the FDA does not have jurisdiction over them. So no one is looking at these drugs, basically.”
(Dillon) Before New Hampshire launched its Internet link to a Canadian pharmacy, it sent two pharmacists to Winnipeg to check out the mail-order operation of CanadaDrugs.com. Merton Dyer, a former state representative from Peterborough who’s a Republican, was part of the inspection team. Dyer’s report concludes that the company is a safe, well-run operation whose products are approved by the Canadian FDA.
(Dyer) “Their record-keeping was excellent. Their in-house processes were very well organized. The people were paying attention to their work, it looks like they had enough staff.”
(Dillon) Dyer says CandaDrugs.com was the first Canadian mail order pharmacy to meet quality standards set by the Internet and Mail Order Accreditation Commission. The group was formed in response to concerns raised by consumers and government agencies. Dyer says he has no qualms recommending the company for people who want to buy cheaper drugs north of the border.
(Dyer) “I thought it was one of the better operations and we brought back a report. Now it’s a political decision beyond that.”
(Dillon) Governor Jim Douglas says he’ll send a team to New Hampshire soon to check out its program. Douglas says he’s interested in the New Hampshire Web site and in whether Vermont can join with other New England states to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.