Canadian drugs

Almost every day, I have a patient ask me what I think about getting prescription drugs from Canada. I have to admit that I'm really torn on this. I understand that the cost of prescription drugs is a major problem -- especially for my older patients (I don't want to get into why drugs are so expensive. That's an entirely different post.)

Formerly, the federal government, through the Department of Homeland Security, halted shipments of imported (Canadian) prescription drugs. According to an article in today's Los Angeles Times, this practice will be abolished and instead random searches will occur.

Popular medications such as Lipitor and Fosamax can be 30% to 80% cheaper from Canada and other countries, surveys have shown. But the U.S. government was confiscating as much as 20% of the shipments this year.
But, sometimes the integrity of these imported drugs needs to be questioned. This topic was covered on a recent episode of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
“It sounds so good, cheap prescription drugs just a click away on the Internet,” said anchor Katie Couric as she introduced the September 20 “Eye on Medicine” report, but, “it could be really dangerous because you may not be getting what you think you are.”

Correspondent Jim Stewart told viewers of a federal bust of “11 people and an Atlanta-based company with a scheme to sell the fake drugs over the Internet.” Stewart noted that the phony drugs were manufactured in “a rented house in Belize” and the Web site peddling them told customers it was a Canadian pharmacy selling re-imported drugs.

I realize I may start a firestorm here with people pointing fingers at other people and groups. But, what's the answer here? I don't know. I do worry about the authenticity of imported drugs. I also worry that prescription drugs are expensive and my patients are doing what they can to stay as healthy as they can, even if they have to get their drugs from Canada.