US House passes..

  1. Prescription drug bill

    Washington-The U.S. House approved legislation early Friday to allow the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from industrialized nations, brushing aside opposition from the Bush administration and a fierce lobbying campaign by the pharmaceutical industry.

    The vote was 243-186, and sent the measure to the Senate, where it faced an uncertain fate.

    http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/...International/

    I hope it does pass all the way, although I can understand the trepidation of those who oppose it.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   WashYaHands
    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for lowering the cost of medications.

    However, from what I see lately in this country, years from now, when half the populace is addicted to oxycontin and xanax because they were able to purchase it over the internet without a prescription, they can sue the government for passing the legislation. Then, of course, they'll blame Bush.

    Linda
  4. by   legsmalone
    I only hope that if this bill does pass the Senate and is signed that the abuses will be few and far between. It saddens me to care for patients in the hospital who can't afford their medications and go without, only to end up back in the hospital.
  5. by   roxannekkb
    Thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, have already been ordering drugs online for years. And thus far, there haven't been any major abuses. On the positive side, it has been the only way that many can afford to fill their prescriptions.

    That is the sad part, really, that drugs in this country are so expensive, and that it is only partially covered--or not covered at all--for most people. That's why they are buying online, and overseas.
  6. by   WashYaHands
    As I said, I agree that medications are costly. Certainly something should be done about it. But, I think that we need to build on programs that are already in place, such as State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs www.ncsl.org/programs/health/drugaid.htm and Prescription Drug Assistance Programs www.medicare.gov/Prescription/Home.asp , and drug discount cards available from many Pharmaceutical companies www.volunteersinhealthcare.org for Medicare recipients who have no other prescription coverage.

    There have been instances where Americans themselves tainted drugs, diluted chemotherapy drugs and such. Just think what could happen in terms of safety and efficacy (and yes, even national security) if we allow medications to flow freely over borders.

    I just think there's a better way to approach the problem.
  7. by   fergus51
    They seem to be looking at importing from other first world countries like Canada aren't they? Our drug regulations are as strict (if not stricter) than American ones, so I wouldn't be worried about the quality of the drugs themselves. The sad thing is many people can't afford th medications they need. What's the point of all the scientific progress if we aren't going to share it with all our citizcens?
  8. by   WashYaHands
    That's the problem, Fergus. The legislation isn't limiting the imports from just Canada. It doesnt specify which countries drugs can come from. If the legislation were simply a Canadian/US agreement, it wouldnt concern me as much.

    Say, for example, some tainted drugs come from China. What legal recourse would the FDA have to catch and prosecute the responsible parties in that country?

    When I worked at a boarding school, I had international students bring meds from their country. The trade/generic names of the drugs were not the same as they are here. In fact, the equivalent drug between the countries wasn't even the same chemical make up and fillers. Some cases I had to have the label translated, as I dont speak chinese, japanese, korean, spanish, etc. I managed, but when I think about these challenges on a wider scale with providers and nurses, I can see where it may become a problem.

    Again, I think we should build on and expand the programs here that are already in place.

    Linda
  9. by   roxannekkb
    Again, I think we should build on and expand the programs here that are already in place
    I would agree. The best case scenario is to be able to buy your prescriptions at home.

    But.....expanding on those programs isn't going to happen overnight. And the pharmaceutical lobby is ferocious about keeping its prices high. And as of right now, most patients on Medicare do not have prescription coverage. And ditto for millions of others.

    So what should do they do right now? Wait for programs to expand? They need to take their medicine today, and the only way to afford it is to buy it overseas. As I said, many have been buying drugs through the Internet for years already. Many in border areas--Canada or Mexico--travel there for their drugs.

    I have been bought Retin-A in Mexico for $7 a tube. As compared to $30 here. Plus my dermatologist would not give me a refill on it, so I had to come back to her, wait in her office half an hour for a 30 second appointment, and then pay out of pocket for the visit since I never meet my deductible. And then pay $30 for the tube of Retin-A. So I had a multiple rip-off, from both the doctor and the pharm company. Then I just had docs I knew write me a script, rather than play games with the dermatologist. But I still have to pay full price for the stuff, and when a friend told me about prices in Mexico, a bunch of us drove down together and stocked up.

    Since I no longer live in Southern CA, with easy access to Mexico, I have bought it over the Internet for about the same price, maybe a little more. Even though I can afford to pay "American" prices for drugs, I still do not want to be ripped off. Maybe I'd be more hesitant if it was a heart medicine, who knows. But then, if it was a choice between buying dinner or buying my medicine, I think i would take a chance through the Internet.

    So while your idea is a good one, it doesn't do anything for people who need their drugs today, and don't have the money to buy them unless they look beyond the U.S. borders.
    Last edit by roxannekkb on Jul 27, '03
  10. by   WashYaHands
    You make an excellent point. You're able to get your Retin-A without a prescription at a lower cost from Mexico. But, what about people who must take cardiac, asthma, thrombolytic, etc. meds. Are we as health care professionals to give folks carte blanche in getting their own meds without a prescription and let them dose themselves just because they're cheaper? Retin-A is probably harmless, but some other meds can be very dangerous if not taken with care and monitored by a provider. A drug as simple as digoxin or coumadin could kill a person if not taken correctly or without the knowledge of a provider.

    One could argue that not being able to afford a med and not taking it can be dangerous as well. I agree with that too. But, this legislation, as it is written today, lacks a safety net. I think it is unsafe for many reasons. I've let my representative know that. We're letting politicians practice medicine as far as I'm concerned...that's a scary thought.
  11. by   fergus51
    I think people who are buying these medications are adults and I don't have a huge problem trusting them to not medicate themselves inappropriately. Most of these people don't just pick a medication and go with it. They have been prescribed it, but can't afford it. Until we do expand those programs, I think it's inappropriate to stop people from getting medications they can afford.
  12. by   happy03
    Hooray House!

    I think it's unfortunate that American Pharmaceutical companies are so greedy, but the fact is they want a monopoly. Millions of Americans are uninsured, myself included, and the cost of prescriptions is prohibitive for many in this country. I think Roxanne gave a wonderful example of how our system works. The same thing has happened to me. I am on HRT and I used to have to visit my doctor monthly ($60 a visit) just to get a new prescription. That's $720 a year just to get new scrips! Then you factor in the cost of the prescriptions which is about three times more expensive here and the actual cost is astronomical. So a few years ago I began ordering online from a place located in the UK. I also buy Retina-A there.
  13. by   roxannekkb
    You make an excellent point. You're able to get your Retin-A without a prescription at a lower cost from Mexico. But, what about people who must take cardiac, asthma, thrombolytic, etc. meds. Are we as health care professionals to give folks carte blanche in getting their own meds without a prescription and let them dose themselves just because they're cheaper? Retin-A is probably harmless, but some other meds can be very dangerous if not taken with care and monitored by a provider. A drug as simple as digoxin or coumadin could kill a person if not taken correctly or without the knowledge of a provider


    You missed the rest of my message. Please reread what I wrote. I said that you made a good point, but that expanding programs takes a lot of time and people need to find a way to pay for their drugs NOW. TODAY.

    I also mentioned that I would be a little more hesitant if it was something stronger, say a heart medicine, but that given a choice between food and drugs (as is the case with many people) I would take my chances with overseas purchasing.

    Most people do not just go out and buy drugs without a prescription. The problem is that they can't afford to pay for it. They are well aware of what drugs they need, they just aren't going through an online catalog and picking up something that looks nice.

    So no one is giving anyone carte blanche. I'm sure the patients will still be monitored by their doctors, as much as they can afford to see them!

    One could argue that not being able to afford a med and not taking it can be dangerous as well. I agree with that too. But, this legislation, as it is written today, lacks a safety net
    Yes, not being able to afford your digoxin and not taking it can kill you. Certainly a bigger gamble than buying it over the Internet from a reputable dealer. And what safety net would you propose on this?

    The bottom line is that people are already buying over the Internet. I have stated that before and will state it again. They have no choice. A woman I know has been buying Tamoxifen from a Canadian Internet company at a cost of $14 a month, which could cost her $200 a month here. For someone living on disability, that cost is prohibitive.

    So for right now, what would you propose? I asked that in my other post. What should a person do right now who can't afford his medication? Wait for legislation to be passed? Write his congressman? Buy his drugs and not pay the rent? Or order it overseas through the Internet?

    Until there are major changes in the way pharmaceutical companies operate in this country, or major changes are made in healthcare access, I don't see another solution coming anytime soon.

    And it is a sad situation, but allowing people to buy drugs from overseas companies is at least a viable solution that can be implemented immediately.
  14. by   WashYaHands
    Most people do not just go out and buy drugs without a prescription.
    You yourself buy Retin-A without a prescription.

    The bottom line is that people are already buying over the Internet.
    Then we shouldn't need this legislation at all if people are already doing it.

    So for right now, what would you propose?
    In my first post on the topic I provided links to the discount cards that pharmaceutical companies offer, these are called PAP's (Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs). I have a list of these programs as well as a list of every states drug assistance programs for elderly, disabled, and medicare patients without prescription coverage. For starters, a public education campaign about these programs would ease the burden. Also, let prescribers aware of the programs so they can assist patients in getting the meds they need at a lower cost. This is the beginning of the solution that we have available now.

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