U.S. demand poses threat to drug supply, groups warn

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

Con­cern over U.S. leg­is­la­tion that al­lows Amer­i­cans to im­port cheaper medicines from Canada has prompted more than a dozen or­ga­ni­za­tions to urge the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to safe­guard the Canadian drug supply.

In a let­ter this week, the 15 groups rep­re­sent­ing pa­tients, health pro­fes­sion­als, hos­pi­tals, and phar­ma­cists warn Health Min­is­ter Ginette Petit­pas Taylor of the po­ten­tial for in­creas­ing drug short­ages.

“The Canadian medicine supply is not suf­fi­cient to sup­port both Canadian and U.S. con­sumers,” the let­ter states. “The supply sim­ply does not, and will not, ex­ist within Canada to meet such de­mands.”

Faced with voter anger over the steep and ris­ing costs of drugs in the U.S., sev­eral states – in­clud­ing Florida with the blessing of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump – have passed laws al­low­ing res­i­dents to im­port drugs from Canada.

In the let­ter to Petit­pas Taylor, the groups say the leg­is­la­tion could ex­ac­er­bate drug short­ages that be­come an in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous con­cern in the Canadian health care sys­tem in re­cent years.

“Hospital and com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies in Canada are re­sourced to serve the Canadian pub­lic,” they say. “They are not equipped to sup­port to the needs of a coun­try 10 times its size with­out cre­at­ing im­por­tant access or qual­ity is­sues.”

A spokesman for Petit­pas Taylor said in an email Fri­day the gov­ern­ment op­poses any ini­tia­tives that could ad­versely af­fect the supply or cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs.

“We con­tinue our work to lower drug prices for Canadians and en­sure they have un­in­ter­rupted access to the pre­scrip­tion drugs they need,” Thierry Be­lair said.

The is­sue has re­cently gar­nered at­ten­tion on both sides of the bor­der. Sen. Bernie San­ders, a Demo­crat pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, has an­nounced plans to ac­com­pany di­a­bet­ics this week­end to Canada to buy life-saving in­sulin, which costs roughly one-10th the price here than in the States.

Late last month, another group of Type 1 di­a­bet­ics from Min­nesota crossed the bor­der to buy in­sulin in Lon­don, Ont. One of the or­ga­niz­ers said soar­ing prices south of the bor­der had forced some users to ra­tion their doses with po­ten­tially se­ri­ous health con­se­quences.

Drug sup­plies are al­ready an is­sue in Canada. In re­cent years, Canadian drug mak­ers have re­ported thou­sands of short­ages for var­i­ous rea­sons - often be­cause of man­u­fac­tur­ing is­sues but also due to in­creased demand. U.S. leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tives could make mat­ters much worse, the let­ter states.

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