"Health Food" for thought...

A Courtesy of Healing Touch Chiropractic and Dr. Gary L. Easter

Canadian Drugs: Hazardous to your health or to Drug Company Profits?

Once again, the idea of cheaper drugs from Canada is coming under fire.  Seems that the Canadian Health Minister who last year said," while the issue has an impact on Canada, the country's drug supply is "safe at this point."", has changed his mind following a visit from President Bush recently and now is planning on passing legistlation that would effectively stop the import of cheaper drugs from Canada.  It seems that America, the world's largest consumer of prescription drugs, pays more for those drugs than any other country in the world.  Canada's drugs are so cheap and easy to get (up to 40% cheaper than here in the US for the same drugs)  that New Hampshire, Boston and now Illinois has opted to defy the government and purchase their drugs for their state employee and other state health systems from Canada, saving their strapped legislatures millions of dollars.

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Why are drugs so expensive in the first place?  Some say it's to cover the cost of research and development.  But according to the graph on the left, from a study done by the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation, nearly two-thirds of prescription drugs approved in the 1990s were modified versions of existing drugs or products containing the same active ingredients as those already on the market. 

 

Just how much profit are we talking about here for 361 new drugs “based on new chemicals acting in new ways”?  According to an article in the October 2002 issue of Life Extension Magazine, the cost of the generic ingredients in 100 tablets of Celebrex is .60 cents.  The consumer price for those same 100 tablets is $130.27 which is a markup of 21,712% for a total of 361 new drugs, and that is just one example.  The markup on Claritin was 30,306% markup.  That's a lot of profit for just 361 new drugs.

 

The reasoning behind the FDA's decision to oppose some states getting their drugs from Canada is that they can not guarantee the quality and safety of those drugs.  Recently, several members of Congress accused the FDA of trying to “scare” older Americans from buying drugs from Canada. Under questioning, Associate Commissioner for the FDA William Hubbard admitted he could not say that Canada regulates prescription drugs any less rigorously than the United States. He also said he knew of no cases of Americans yet being harmed by drugs from Canada. 

So why is the FDA against cheaper drugs from Canada?  One possible reason is conflicts of interest.  USA TODAY analyzed financial conflicts of interest on the 18 expert advisory committees established by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. These committees vote on whether new drugs should be approved and what regulations should govern the drug approval process. The newspaper created a database of financial conflicts disclosed at all 159 advisory committee meetings from Jan. 1, 1998, through June 30, 2000. About 250 members appeared 1,620 times during those meetings.

As required by law, FDA advisory committees disclose when members have a financial interest in the subject of the meeting. Financial interest is defined in FDA regulations "as the potential for gain or loss as a result of government action on a particular matter."  More than half of the experts hired to advise the government on the safety and effectiveness of medicine have financial relationships with the pharmaceutical companies that will be helped or hurt by their decisions, a USA TODAY study found.  Click Here for more info.

The pharmacuetical lobby is the biggest lobby in Washington and pumps more money into american politics than any other lobby.