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U.S. Congress Threatens Canada's Prescription Drug Supply

OTTAWA, Ontario, Jan.10, 2007 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian pharmacist and patients' groups  warned today that the federal government should act soon to protect Canada's  prescription drug supply following the introduction of a bulk-import bill in  the U.S Congress.      

"We have been raising concern about this potential catastrophe for the  Canadian drug supply system for months. It's now time for Minister Clement to  act," stated Dr. Jeff Poston of the Canadian Pharmacists Association. The Best Medicines Coalition agreed. "Patients can't afford this risk,"  said coalition chair Louise Binder. "Canadians need reassurance today that  prescription drugs will be there when we need them."       Canadian pharmacists and patients' groups have called on the Canadian  government to introduce an immediate and straightforward ban on the export,  both bulk and retail, of prescription drugs.      

In Washington, lawmakers of both houses of Congress said today they will  move ahead with legislation to allow prescription drug imports from Canada as  a way to address the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S.      

"This is an unsustainable quick-fix for the made-in-America problem of  high U.S. drug costs," said Marc Kealey, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists'  Association. Kealey added, "Congress is telling Americans it's okay to cherry-pick the  benefits of Canada's regulated drug system and solve a domestic U.S. problem  on the backs of Canadians. Canada cannot afford to become America's medicine  cabinet. That threatens the security of our own drug supply and the health and  well-being of Canadians." Poston noted that Canadians have built a drug supply and pricing  mechanism that meets Canadian needs. Buying drugs in Canada as a quick fix to  high U.S. drug prices is not a solution. U.S. lawmakers should design a system  that responds to the needs of Americans instead of jeopardizing Canada's drug  supply.      

Canada's health minister, the Honourable Tony Clement, remains silent on  the issue. His staff have previously said the government does not expect U.S.  changes to impact Canada's drug supply. An independent study by the University of Texas at Austin shows that  Canada's current drug supply would only last for 38 days if Americans are  allowed to buy Canadian medicine in bulk.      

"This is a clear threat to the Canadian drug supply," said Kealey. "We  need to hear from the federal government straight away what they plan to do.  This is a problem that can be prevented. The government needs to act now."        

For further information: Louise Crandall, Canadian Pharmacists  Association, (613) 523-7877; Mary Ann Cedrone, Ontario Pharmacists'  Association, (416) 441-0788; Paulette Eddy, Best Medicines Coalition, (416)  622-3893

Posted: January 2007