Canadian Rx Pipeline Drying Up

Jan 17, 2003

By George Anderson

GlaxoSmithKline is planning to halt shipments of its products to wholesalers that supply Canadian pharmacies that resell the medicines to consumers in the US, says a report in Newsday.

Mary Anne Rhyne, spokeswoman, GlaxoSmithKline said, “Canadian-approved medicines cannot be exported outside the country and that includes selling via the Internet. We have basically targeted pharmacies to remind them that they have agreed to these terms and if they can’t live by those, they should let us know.”

Price controls in Canada have kept costs for medicines there at substantially lower prices than in the states. The result is that many consumers, particularly those on fixed incomes, have turned to purchasing their prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies, both in-store and online.

The Manitoba International Pharmacists Association estimates that approximately 1 million Americans order their medication from Canada.

Moderator’s Comment: Should consumers be permitted
to order prescriptions from pharmacies outside the country?

Newsday reports that Ms. Rhyne said GlaxoSmithKline’s
action is not about money but patient safety. GlaxoSmithKline is concerned that
medications coming from across the border “may be subjected to radiation or
temperature changes that make them less effective.”

There was no mention in the report as to whether Ms. Rhyne
was able to make that statement with a straight face.
Anderson – Moderator

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