Friday, January 07, 2005

Why Pay Less? 

The deal Bush denies making with Canada: if you stop selling us your cheap, safe drugs, we'll start buying your cheap, unsafe beef. From the Washington Post, courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.D.:
The Canadian health minister plans to restrict the supply of inexpensive prescription drugs shipped to about 2 million patients in the United States each year, and industry officials here are saying President Bush is behind the move.

Bush "is getting Canada to do the dirty work" of shutting down a cheap supply of foreign-made drugs that are popular with American consumers but unpopular with U.S. drug companies, charged David MacKay, executive director of an association of Canadian mail-order pharmacies.

A White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said Bush "did not make any suggestions on what Canada should do" about the mail-order drug industry. But Duffy said by telephone from Washington that the issue was discussed at a Nov. 30 meeting in Ottawa between Bush and Prime Minister Paul Martin. Canadian officials confirmed this account . . . .

Those changes would likely "shut us down," said Andy Troszok, president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, which represents 35 major mail-order pharmacies. He said Canada's Health Department was supportive of the four-year-old mail-order industry until Bush came to Ottawa.

MacKay said Canadian authorities "turned on a dime" after that meeting. He said he has learned that "President Bush threw out an ultimatum," demanding that Canada shut down the mail-order sales, possibly in exchange for U.S. concessions in lifting the ban on imports of Canadian beef. He said Bush did not want to publicly oppose the sales because many U.S. senior citizens and members of Congress are fans of the lower prescription prices.

But spokesmen for Martin and Bush denied that the president made any demands of the prime minister. White House press secretary Scott McClellan, speaking at a news conference in Washington, called MacKay's charges "nonsense," while Polk said "no such pressure was put on whatsoever."
A September article by Merrill Goozner of the Center for American Progress describes the scare tactics pharmaceutical companies are using to ensure that the American consumer continues to pay top dollar for drugs that cost 30-40% less elsewhere. The key graf:
But even if millions of Americans could get drugs from abroad, they wouldn't be getting ultra-low prices. Canadians, Europeans and other potential exporters are not paying generic prices for drugs. They are paying discounted prices negotiated by their national or provincial health authorities – something specifically prohibited in last year's Medicare prescription drug bill. If the U.S. joined the party, a bill allowing drug imports would be unnecessary.
We are, of course, unlikely to join that party, because the millions of poor and middle-class Americans who cast their votes for Bush were too credulous (or too thick) to figure out that the President's top ideological priority is the redistribution of wealth. Theirs.

| | Technorati Links | to Del.icio.us