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Monday, October 27, 2003

A Very Powerful Finding

I'm looking out of a very grey window here in Barcelona, and into a very bleak panorama across the screen in Baghdad, but I'm sure others will comment on that. What I don't really know what to do with is this piece in the NYT about US citizens who want to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. Something has got to give here, hasn't it? Singapore issues anyone?

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich will ask the federal authorities to give Illinois special permission to buy its employees' prescription drugs from Canada because, he said Sunday, he now has evidence the move would be safe for consumers and would save the state more than 16 percent of its annual share of drug costs.

According to a report that Mr. Blagojevich plans to share with federal regulators and members of Congress on Monday, as much as $90.7 million a year could be saved if drugs for state employees and retired employees were bought across the border in Canada, where costs are regulated by the government. The state's share of that savings, $56.5 million, represents a significant chunk of the $340 million the state spent on drug costs last year, according to the study Mr. Blagojevich commissioned six weeks ago.

"It's undeniable that you can get drugs cheaper," the governor, a Democrat, said in an interview on Sunday. "The question is really safety, and the fact is that the study comes back and says that Canadian procedures for safety are comparable and sometimes even better. That's a very powerful finding."

Mr. Blagojevich's study is only the latest element in a growing political fight between state and local authorities, who hope drug imports could help rescue their budgets, and officials from the Food and Drug Administration and from the drug industry, who have opposed the idea, citing safety concerns and federal rules banning it.

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