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Critics charge that new, low-priced drugs can endanger health

October 10, 2003
By: Stephanie Hockridge
State Capital Bureau

With the high cost of prescription drugs, some states are looking to Canada for cheaper prices. But, critics charge that new, low priced drugs can endanger your health. Stephanie Hockridge has the story.

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Illinois has developed a plan that will cause a downward pressure on prices of prescription drugs in the United States.

However, some in the health field voice concerns about the potential health risks involved in purchasing drugs across the border.

Missouri Medical Association Executive Vice President C.C. Swarens says there is no way the Food and Drug Administration can ensure the safety of such drugs.

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"THERE IS NO WAY TO ENSURE SAFETY OF THESE DRUGS. THERE IS JUST NO SAFEGUARDS AT ALL ON REIMPORTATION OF DRUGS REGARDING THE EFFICACY OF THEM OR SAFETY OF THEM."

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Swarens says the FDA cannot regulate prescription drugs in Canada.

He says this is a problem because they are unable restrict manipulated, misbranded or unapproved drugs.

But Representative Otto Bean, a Republican on the Missouri Health Appropriations Committee, says that's an erroneous statement.

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"THE DRUGS THAT I HAVE SEEN AND THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE TALKED TO ME [SAY] IT'S MANUFACTURED BY THE SAME COMPANY, IT'S IN THE SAME CONTAINER AND IT SAYS THE SAME THING. SO, IF THAT MANUFACTURER IS DEFRAUDING SOMEONE IN CANADA, THEY ARE DEFRAUDING SOMEONE IN THE UNITED STATES."

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Jo Ann Emerson, a southeast Missouri Congresswoman has spearheaded the campaign for the reimportation of Canadian drugs.

Her spokesman, Jeffrey Connor, says the FDA licenses facilities in nearly fifty-seven countries worldwide and that drugs bought in Canada are safe.

He says there has never been a proven case that death is due to the importation of these drugs.

From the state Capitol, I'm Stephanie Hockridge.