/publications/issue/2004/2004-04/2004-04-7816

Minnesota Governor's Web Site Promotes Cut-Rate Canadian Rxs

Author: Ken Rankin

A controversial new Internet site launched by Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty to help patients order cheap drugs from Canadian mail-order pharmacies has drawn an icy reception from the state's community pharmacists. The Web site www.MinnesotaRxCon nect.com contains links to 2 Canadian pharmacies (Total Care Pharmacy of Calgary, Alberta, and Granville Pharmacy of Vancouver, British Columbia). These pharmacies were surveyed by state officials and were found to be safe places for Minnesota patients to order prescription medicines.

Even officials at the state pharmacy board who have expressed serious reservations about importing prescription drugs from other countries conceded that the 2 Canadian pharmacies listed on the governor's Web site "probably are as good as or better than Minnesota pharmacies."

The Minnesota Pharmacists Association (MPhA), however, warned that encouraging consumers to order prescriptions from foreign sources could have dangerous consequences. "The governor's importation Web site encourages patients to use a system that removes the communication they would normally have with their local pharmacist and breaks up their prescription records," MPhA officials said.

Minnesota pharmacists also charged that, by promoting personal importation of prescription medicines, the state might be making a substantial number of local pharmacies go out of business.

"Pharmacies are trying to survive in an environment where many prescription benefit plans are forcing patients to mail order, and reimbursement rates from insurance carriers and government agencies are being cut to the point where costs are not even being recovered," the association officials warned. "The reality is that many of Minnesota pharmacies will not be able to" survive the threat from cheap Canadian prescriptions.