Cheap prescription drugs from Canada won't last What others say

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2004

The free lunch crowd never gives up until the roof caves in. We may be seeing the first signs of cracks in the ceiling when it comes to the reimportation of prescription drugs.

People are buying drugs over the Internet from Canada. They are cheaper, but not because of some Canadian tooth fairy.

Canada's government uses its purchasing power to get a discount from U.S. drug companies. Having already recovered their extensive research and development costs from U.S. consumers, the companies can afford to sell marginal quantities of drugs at a discount. Because Canadian income, on average, is less than in the United States, the savings is minimized to their consumers.

In addition to the individual purchases, local governments in some parts of America now are trying to buy in bulk from Canada.

Obviously, this means at some point, sharply declining sales at the normal price and increased sales at the discount rates.

Carried to any length, it would force drug companies to cut back on research and development and the pipeline of new drugs that save lives and ease pain and suffering will dry up.

Before that, however, one would expect the drug companies to shut off the supply to the Canadian freeloaders.

That is exactly what is happening, according to Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute. She warned in a piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle, that companies such as Pfizer, Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline already are limiting their shipments to Canada and that a proposal by the San Francisco government to buy in bulk from Canada would make it worse.

Politicians who think they can get something for nothing have a lot to learn.

Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville - Feb. 19

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