Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Our Back-and-Forth with Canada

For a while now, old folks near the U.S.-Canada border have been making trips up to Canada to score inexpensive prescription drugs. It's especially handy for old folks who are among the millions of Americans with no health insurance.

Well, that was taking money out of Americans' pockets. From current pharma employees to the old guys in golf shirts at the Red Lobster who give the current lifers shit about the day's 5 cent drop in stock price, pain was being felt. So something had to be done. The U.S. had to raise a sense of fear about drugs from Canada being unsafe.

A statement from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which designed the ad described earlier, insists that buying drugs abroad carries risks not found at home.

"Federal law on prescription drug imports and reimports reflects well-documented concerns about the safety of imported drugs, and the probability that many such drugs will be unapproved, adulterated, contaminated or counterfeit," the group said.

If that weren't bad enough, there was the mad-cow beef scare of May 2003, which raised safety concerns about Canada's beef as well and led to a blocking of beef from Canada (starting March 7, imports of Canadian animals younger than 30 months will be allowed).

Earlier this month, Canada banned the ADHD drug AdderallXR, made by UK company Shire, after 20 sudden unexplained deaths. In the US, the FDA is taking action, too. They are going to 'carefully evaluate data'. If you think that's not enough, rest assured Shire will put some lawyers to work drafting label language that will 'minimize shareholder exposure', too.

Last year U.S. pharma Merck voluntarily pulled Vioxx in the wake of a study showing it increased the risks of heart attack and stroke. The FDA approved Vioxx, and it was launched in 1999.

After Vioxx, similar concerns were raised about other COX-2 inhibitors, Bextra and Celebrex. They now have the blessing of an FDA advisory panel. Thank God for that!

Recently in the UK, the MHRA issued a warning about potential liver damage risks from the Adult ADD drug Strattera (perhaps Lilly can put a sticker on the bottle encouraging people to drink alcohol while taking Strattera, to minimize their culpability in the case of a big class action lawsuit).

So, remember, the message here is, Canada is lax about safety! Say no to drugs from Canada! They're a bunch of crazy wild-eyed socialists up there!

Do not cry for our Canadian neighbors, though. As China continues to gain influence and its economy and demand for natural resources continues to grow, Canada will likely do just fine, according to this recent article by Jim Willie, CB, from the highly entertaining and informative 'Golden Jackass' site.

the USA will need Canada to interrupt the process whereby the USA is locked out of the supply chain for minerals and resources. Much will be learned during the current growing conflict over cheaper prescription drug commerce, as the USA has coerced cooperation with Canada. Each acquisition represents an event leading to removal of supply from the system, and creation of a direct line from Canada to China.


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