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Future of Pharmacy

jdpharmd?

Turning lead into gold
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Mar 3, 2003
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AND then...
lacarthic said:
How do you think that the new legislation to allow people to get prescriptions from Canada and other countries will effect pharmacists? Do you think that it will lower salaries or hurt jobs? Just a thought

I passed a really interesting looking business today. I didn't have a chance to stop by (it's easter), but it looked like a business/storefront for importing Canadian drugs. I think it was called something like "Rx America". The sign was just a banner tied onto the building (new/temp), but it was pretty clear that the whole point was just to get drugs from Canada. Our state board isn't too big on importing drugs, so it will be interesting to see if they have any type of pharmacy license. I plan on stopping by to see what it's all about.
 
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Oneday_9

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eddie269 said:
can someone explain briefly the whoe issue with importing drugs? I have no idea. Was importing drugs from Canada to US somehow illegal before and now its legal? Is that the issue at hand?

There are many reasons,mostly due to different economic policies, to explain WHY drugs are cheaper in Canada than in the US, but that is what the big deal is with current discussion for drug importation. As drug prices increase, more and more people are buying these drugs from canadian pharmacies. The US currently does not import drugs bc the FDA maintains that there is no way to make sure that such transportation can be done safely, ie no drug tampering etc. The debate is definitely of concern with medicare benefits, as many congressmen and women wish to create a policy for this to occur, but again the FDA feels it will take time to create an organizational structure to provide safe transport for medications. As of now, this is not backed by the US. I am also a resident of AZ, and have seen the same pharmacies, but not sure of the loopholes to provide such a service.

IF you wish to know more about WHY drugs are actually cheaper...go to ask.com and type in something about drug prices in US vs Canada. I found alot of great information. On the topic first posted, I have also wondered about how this will impact pharmacies. Realize, that it isn't a majority of people doing this, as the media seems to indicate. I doubt the demand for pharmacists and the salaries will deplete, it seems that it will be a continuing problem.
 

kren

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importing drugs from canada is still illegal because the safety of these imported drugs is still in question (due to availability of counterfeit drugs and fda-unapproved drugs). medicare drug reform package stated that the govt can import drugs from canada as long as safety has been proven. so the dept of hhs is currently in the process of holding hearings and doing studies to determine safety. beyond the safety issues, there are also economic ones. pharma companies are strongly against importation b/c they can lose $$-- they're forced to sell drugs at lower costs to other countries due to those govts' price controls. plus, they do not have the same patent protections outside the US. so they claim their r&d funds are at risk. there are many states and localities that support importation b/c it can provide drugs at a much lower cost, esp for the elderly. some states are actually providing resources (like links to "safer" canadian rx websites) to help ppl get access to canadian meds-- i'm not sure if this is legal or not. it may be one of those federal vs state issues (i.e. illegal at federal level, legal at state level depending on the state). however, the states are not yet importing the drugs. anybody please correct me if i'm wrong with anything i've said. hope this helps some!
 

spacecowgirl

in the bee-loud glade
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Feb 27, 2004
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Reimportation is still illegal (yes Grandma, I'm sorry your Lipitor is as contraband as a Cuban cigar). My understanding from my class in professional pharmacy is that Canadian and most of the EU governments stringently control the prices of drugs keeping them artificially low. This has come at the expense of research and development (R&D), which is why the majority of the major drug companies have moved out of Europe and into the US. According to Tufts University, the cost of bringing a new drug to market costs an average of $802 million :eek: Granted, I do think pharmaceutical companies spend too much on DTC advertising, advertising to MDs, hospitals and pharmacies, and lobbying, but R&D still IS very expensive, especially with biopharmaceuticals. 20 years ago, the majority of pharmaceutical development was in Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Today 60% of drug companies are in the US (Novartis, GSK, Aventis, Pharmacia).

Beyond cost, the legitimacy of imported drugs is always questionable. Anyone who keeps up with the pharmacy journals knows that counterfeit drugs are confiscated frequently. Additionally, I think the health of the consumer, even with safe drugs, is at risk due to the lack of face-to-face contact, patient counseling and the fragmenting of patient records by using several pharmacies and pharmacies that rely on the internet. If someone gets Viagra from Canada, how is Hometown USA pharmacy supposed to know there could be a potential interaction with that patient's heart medications (although this is a problem anytime patients use multiple pharmacies and do not divulge their entire health history).

Further, I think price controls (which could be a possibility in the US driven by reimportation) will greatly hurt research for orphan drugs.

The bottom line is the pharmaceutical companies are not charities and are out to make a profit, which is what make the US a capitalist nation ? it is also what leads to innovation. I think reimportation could hurt us, but since the FDA seems vehemently opposed to it, for time being, I believe we are safe. I think there are better alternatives to control the cost of drugs such as more a more streamlined FDA approval process, controls of DTC advertising, etc.

Can you tell I?m a little passionate on this subject ? :laugh:
 

Longhorn23

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Spacecowgirl has a point but what about ppl who have no insurance to pay for these exorbitantly priced drugs? From Personal experience: when my husband lost his job he had to give up the statins he was taking because they were so expensive and we lost our insurance. Thankfully he was soon able to find a job but this experience made me more sympathetic to ppl who are in support of importing Canadian drugs. I just wonder how retirees can afford them since many of them are on multiple medications...........
 

dgroulx

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Longhorn23 said:
I just wonder how retirees can afford them since many of them are on multiple medications...........

People are living longer because of drugs. Unfortunately, it may come down to the poor not being able to prolong their life. We don't have socialized medicine here, so we can't control the prices.
 

spacecowgirl

in the bee-loud glade
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I had a good response to this but then AOL crashed (for something completely different :mad: Anyway, I was saying that my husband and I were in the same position last year - we were without insurance for almost the entire year of 2003. We spent over $300 a month on Rxs out of pocket. It sucked, but we got through it and made sacrifices to pay.

I do feel sorry for older people who have to pay for so many medications, although I also firmly believe that lifestyle modifications can greatly reduce the number of prescriptions needed/person, but that's OT.

Ultimately, I think that placing price restrictions and reimportation will hurt not help the health of Americans by restricting R&D. There must be incentive (read: money to be made) for the the development of drugs - and that's just the way it is, unless you want socialized medicine (not saying that's a bad idea).
 
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