Drug companies' reimportation resistance rooted in wrong attitude

LETTER — Posted Aug. 9, 2004

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Regarding "Medicare demo project previews drug benefit" (Article, July 19): The pharmaceutical manufacturers have taken a "your money or your life" approach in ripping off senior citizens (of which I am one) and smoke-screening physicians with freebies.

The AARP just announced a 7.2% increase in drug prices by pharmaceutical manufacturers for the year ending in the first quarter of 2004. Doesn't that take care of much of the 10% to 15% that is "saved" with the Medicare drug discount cards?

Through a loophole, drug cost increases can eat up the annual cost-of-living allowance on Social Security benefits. How can U.S.-manufactured drugs shipped to Canada be considered "unsafe" for reimportation at one-third of the U.S. price? If we can trust the safety of our lives with the brakes of a Plymouth Voyageur made in Canada, why can't we trust the Canadian Health Protection Bureau's (the Canadian FDA equivalent) overview of Canadian drug safety?

If hospitals have DRG Medicare reviews and physicians accept Medicare discounted payments, for equal justice under the law, it's time for the pharmaceutical manufacturers to submit to equal "treatment."

Thomas L. Kurt, MD, MPH, Dallas

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/08/09/edlt0809.htm.

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