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March 31, 2007

AARP endorsement

"AARP Presses Case for Rxa"

March 26, 2007
http://www.drugnewswire.com/14241/

From March 7; PRNewswire-USNewswire


Summary:
The AARP, non-profit organization for elderly (age 50 and up), testified in Congress endorsing the Pharmacuetical Market Access Act citing high rates of prescription drug costs to Americans. “AARP endorsed the bipartisan Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007" (S. 242, H.R. 380), which would legalize the importation of FDA-approved medications from certain countries beginning with Canada, impose strict safety standards to prevent drug counterfeiting, and include important provisions to prevent potential trade obstructions.? It was cited that 38 million elderly regard prescription drug prices as the most important barrier to obtaining the necessary drugs. “The importation of prescription drugs is not the sole solution to soaring drug prices in the U.S. However, AARP believes that a system providing for the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs can serve to put downward pressure on drug prices and will permit consumers to realize some savings on the cost of their prescription drugs.? Several parts

Implication to pharmacy:

The endorsement by the AARP raises further support by the group of Americans in which utilize much of the prescription drug age categories. This in turn supports elderly voters who are most concerned with their well being. As pharmacists, you want the best for your patients’ health. As I have previously stated, this act may be a short term resolution to an exponentially growing problem we face in health care. Pharmacists in turn should be more aware of counterfeits and other related problems, such as the correct drug regimen. A foreign pharmaceutical company may not evaluate the drug therapy at the same standard that we would here. Also even with customer support lines to call in for questions, the waiting times and the inconvenience of calling may deter patients from getting to their question. Moreover, I presume many elderly are more comfortable with human contact rather than a voice over the phone or a letter stating drug interactions. Yes, the legislative act could potentially lower prescription drug prices, but as pharmacists, we learn drug therapy assessments that a foreign pharmacy may not do. Can we really trade safety and efficacy for monetary value? Until the questions of safety and equivalence has been determined equivalent in the foreign pharmacies, the legislative act could prove detrimental to those who need prescription medications to maintain their health.

Posted by aluong at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2007

Further progres into legislative act

"Senators promise drug importation push"

By Lisa Richwine
ABCNews Internet Ventures
3/8/07

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=2932684



Summary:

Democratic and Republican senators are pushing forward to legalize prescription drug importation. One of the measures included is to provide “money and safeguards for the Food and Drug Administration to assure the imports were not dangerous.? The senators hope the bill will increase competition for prescription drugs and eventually lower prescription drug prices. “The legislation would allow consumers, pharmacies and wholesalers to purchase FDA-approved medicines sold in Canada and other industrialized countries. Congress would provide money so the FDA could make sure the medicines and manufacturing sites met agency standards.? The FDA has warned against this measure, stating “the agency cannot vouch for drugs purchased from foreign sources,? mainly safety and efficacy, as well as equivalence, cannot be determined or assured.

Implication to pharmacy:

This article is just a reminder in the progression of the Pharmaceutical Market access act. It shows the struggles between legislators trying to please the millions of Americans by allowing cheaper, international drugs to be imported and lowering drug costs versus the FDA being concerned about the drugs’ safety and efficacy for the public. This has an implication on the availability of pharmaceutical care given to warn patients that do not possibly possess all the knowledge they need to know about the drugs they’re ingesting. It would also affect the progress of pharmacy profession moving from pharmaceutical care. Although we have learned in class, internet pharmacies have provided a convenience to patients, however, personal experience also draws patients into their local pharmacies. I feel this a short-term resolution to a health-care system that needs to be revised. They’re focusing on pharmaceutical costs as a way to reduce healthcare expenditure, however, a large systematic review and interdisciplinary care would allow for more efficient healthcare services and lower overall costs. This a change that pharmacists are able to help to optimize the most efficient drug therapy, along with other health professionals to increase overall public health and awareness.

Posted by aluong at 06:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2007

One stop, shop to cure

"What happened to Miracle Cures??

By Charles Cirtwill
The Public Policy; The American Spectator
2/28/2007
http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=11075

Summary:

Charles Cirtwill tries to break down the importation legislature, along side with healthcare costs. He states that each country creates its own free market in regards to pharmaceutical drugs and our efforts to lower American consumer costs by importing from Canada will increase the Canadian prices. Also, he mentions prevention drugs as a means to cheaper healthcare, the reason why so many Americans, and consumers worldwide, pay for “small cures.? As stated, on average “..an additional 100 prescriptions would mean 16.3 fewer days in the hospital. And every additional dollar spent on prescription drugs reduces total health care costs by $2.65 in fewer hospital visits.? The articles also states that in developing formularies and restrictions on prescription drug coverage, there has been a decline in overall health and thus an increase in treatment costs. “…even a small increase in co-payments on necessary prescriptions can force individuals to cut back on treatment regimens for long-term conditions like asthma, diabetes, or chronic heart failure.? He proposes a interdisciplinary health care system that works together to reduce the costs of healthcare, rather than solely concentrating on prescription drugs aspect. In doing so Americans may have better access to healthcare and increase in overall health, without the high costs that we currently have.


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Implication on Pharmacy:

He points out a sector of pharmacy, managed care pharmacy, that is able to lower costs to consumers with high cost, chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and asthma. He states this is a first step in increasing the effectiveness of our health care. Pharmacists then are in the front lines to help alleviate overall healthcare costs by managing effective drug therapies to prevent the high costs treatments that would result from hospitalizations. There is such a large focus to reduce only one sector of healthcare, prescription drugs. To me, this is because consumers are seeing these costs first hand, while other costs of healthcare are not being presented to them properly. Those not in the healthcare profession may not be informed of all the options there are present to start initiating change. The importation of drugs, or Pharmaceutical Market Access Act, is a quick fix to our healthcare crisis. There are risks, as previously stated in other blogs, to importing drugs from other countries whose regulations differ from ours or even worse with counterfeit drugs, which would have a tremendous impact with ineffective therapies. This is a topic we have encountered in class, so I was very intrigued when I stumbled across this article because its directly applicable to our profession and the future of pharmacy. Just by decreasing one sector of healthcare doesn't change the problem that we face; it will only become a larger problem later on. There isn't one place to look for to increase American's health, but its a process and a system to really prevent before chronic illnesses/ onsets to happen.

Posted by aluong at 03:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trade what with Mexico???

"Governor in Mexico to push cross-border businesses"

The Arizona Republic, The Tuscan Republic

2/02/2007
http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/local/41463.php

Summary:

Arizona govoner, Janet Napolitano, visited Mexican President Felipe Calderon to delegate increase trades between the Mexican and Arizona border. Several countries have expressed interest in a growing Mexican economy, including Spain, Brazil, and Chile. Arizona exports $4 billion to Mexico annually, with 80% going to Sonora state in Mexico. Govonor hopes to take on border security, drug trafficking, and to encourage the Mexican government to fund transportation routes to/from the United States and Canada, “Canamex Corridor Project, an effort to link Mexico, Canada and the United States via superhighways running through Arizona.?

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“Diet Drug Acomplia Now on Sale in Some Mexican Border Pharmacies?

AcompliaRep, Rimonabant March 2007

Summary:

An unapproved FDA diet drug, Acomplia (Rimonabant), has been rumored to be sold at pharmacies across the Mexican border in Los Algodones, Tijuana, and Nuevo Laredo. However, there seems to have not been any confirmed reports of anyone obtaining Acomplia from a Mexican pharmacy or even some pharmacies carrying it. Reports had Acomplia going for $100 for 28 pills in the Mexican pharmacies, which is cheaper than buying it from European mail-order pharmacies. This site gives several tips/warnings to consumers about buying drugs in Mexico, like declaration of the drugs to customs, prescription drugs, counterfeit drugs, and importation of unapproved drugs by FDA is prohibited.

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Implication to Pharmacy:

I combined the two articles because Mexico is also a market for American consumers to get cheaper drugs. With the Arizona govonor visiting Mexico, along with President Bush, we can see that trade with Mexico will increase. With prescription drug costs so high in the U.S., Mexican businesses are bound to have pharmacies readily available to American consumers. Drug importation is easier done with neighboring countries, such as Mexico and Canada. However, Mexican policies and drug inspection rates are not similar to ours, as Canada has tougher regulations (as I mentioned in a previous blog). I saw an ABC program where there are hundreds of street pharmacies across the Mexican border now and people trying to make sales of prescription drugs like they would try to sell a t-shirt or hat to tourists. Americans are flocking across the Mexican border to get cheaper drugs, as well as treatments, some not approved by the FDA.

It’s also known that illegal drug trafficking also occurs at these borders. With illegal trafficking, there is greed and greed brings along dishonest people trying to make quick cash. Americans can become susceptible to scams, fraudulent programs, and counterfeit drug with these foreign traders who know high drug prices in the U.S.

Our high healthcare costs has driven Americans to rely on outside healthcare systems, which is an indicator that our system is beginning to fail because of its free market access. I know and hear of many Americans getting their drugs, diagnosis, and even treatments from other countries because the cost is so high in the U.S. Being apart of the healthcare profession, we should work together to decrease the need to travel out of the country to get treatment, as well as assuring patients the proper care and preventative medicine needed. Business is what is driving our healthcare system, not healthcare. I believe to efficiently run and manage our healthcare system drastic changes need to occur, although many are not aware or willing to accept a total different healthcare system. But how truly safe is it to save $100 by going to the Mexican border? Is the drug a counterfeit? Have they mixed in other active ingredients? Prescription drug trade may also mask and increase other illegal drug trafficking into the United States.

Posted by aluong at 03:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack