PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: Canadian Internet pharmacies oppose drug reimportation . . . !

Dr. Rost provides services as a pharmaceutical marketing expert witness. For more info see: Drug Expert Witness. Dr. Peter Rost email. Copyright © 2006-2013 InSync Communication. All rights reserved. Terms of use agreement, privacy policy and the computer fraud and abuse act.


Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as a medical device and drug expert witness and pharmaceutical marketing expert. Judge Sanders: "The court agrees with defendants' view that Dr. Rost is a very adept and seasoned expert witness." He is also the author of Emergency Surgery, The Whistleblower and Killer Drug. You can reach him on rostpeter (insert symbol) Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.

Canadian Internet pharmacies oppose drug reimportation . . . !

"Canadian pharmacies are ready and able to service a mail-order program for uninsured patients. But opening a global trade for bulk drugs is simply not sustainable - it could jeopardize existing therapies to millions of Americans," says Barney Britton, President of Minit Drugs.

Here is press release.

So . . . what's up?

Simple. Canadian Internet pharmacies currently make their living off the fact that drug reimportation is not legal in the US.

If bulk drug importation would become legal, the Canadian Internet pharmacies wouldn't do the sales--various wholesalers would make the big bucks.

So, they don't mind the status quo.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's more to it than that Peter. The Canadian government will not tolerate bulk exports. (bulk=wholesale) No country in their right mind would.

Even the parallel traders in Europe will be hard pressed to find enough product to meet the demand. As soon as exports start to jeopardize domestic supply governments will act to ban them. And you can bet your former employers will do everything they can to shave supply to a minimum and scare governments with threats of shortages.

If the Dorgan/Snowe bill becomes law you can guarantee the Canadian government will act. And it is very likely they will ban all drug exports - not just bulk wholesale.They are not going to take a chance. Even legalized personal mail-order exports may be more than they are willing to permit.

And if that happens - more than 2 million Americans will be cut off from their medications and drug importation goes the way of the Do-Do Bird, along with the political leverage that it provides.

Does the phrase "Be careful what you ask for" come to mind?!

Blogger Peter Rost said...

If I recall, the bill would allow for drugs from many countries, not just Canada . . .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Mail-order only from Canada for one year then it opens up bulk wholesale to about 30 countries. That concentration on Canada for the first year may be enough to precipitate a drastic response from the Canadian government. PhRMA and its Canadian allies are already lobbying Ottawa for a complete ban on drug exports.

Question Americans really want a functional drug importation program or is this a political pon to pressure Big Pharma to come to the table?

In the end it may not matter. If the Canadian government blinks first, American consumers and the Dems will lose both ways. It's a high stakes gamble.

Blogger Peter Rost said...

Dave, you know I love you! You may or may not be right. Problem is if Internet pharmacies start talking out of both ends of their mouths they'll lose credibility no matter what. Are they for free trade or not? That's all people will care about. You can't start lobby against bulk drugs, you will not be credible. Leave that to Big Pharma, they don't need you to do that. The bills I have seen also contain provision that would make it illegal to artifically limit supply to Canada or anywhere else. So Canadians should be safe . . . if everyone follows the law . . .

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tell me Peter, do you think Mrs. Smith, who can barely afford her groceries or rent let alone her pills, gives a hoot about free trade? And please don't tell me, after all your eyes have seen from Big Pharma, that you really believe that the provisions within the bill will actually deter them from monkeying with the supply.

"If everyone follows the law..." I am surprised you could type that without going into convulsions.

This issue is anything but about free trade. Both sides have used that cliche to try to bolster their case and in both cases it comes out sounding like pure self righteous bunk. Enough of that smoke screen.

It isn't about some romantic notion of economics - clinging to free trade (nobody really knows what that means) or defending the borders from the socialist scurge of price controls. (that's a classic)

Give me a break. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. This is about being able to afford your medications. And unfortunately, that personal crisis plays out millions of times everyday. There wouldn't even be a debate if so many people weren't desperately reaching out for an alternative.

Arbitrage or not these Canadian pharmacies are meeting a very personal need. And there may come a day when that need will be addressed from within either by the miracle of free trade *cough* or a little help from Congress. But I recommend that you don't hold your breath.

Fear not, Big Pharma is rallying to save America from disease, both medical and social. Indeed, the Canadians need not worry, Pharma's army of lobbyists will undoubtedly win the day. Silly of them to raise a flag, especially a red and white one.

Those darn Canadian pharmacies should just mind there own business...and oh yeah, keep filling those prescriptions. ;))

Blogger Peter Rost said...

The Canadian situation is just a temporary fix. We need legalized bulk importation, just like Europe. The European Union has been able to handle this for 20 years, so I think we could too . . . and I wouldn't let initial supply issues lead us to cement the current Wild West situation. Right now a very small US minority get their drugs from Canada, I'd like all Americans to be able to have access to affordable drugs, from Europe, Canada and some other countries.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you running for office Peter? :)

That European nirvana sounds dreamy except for a few problems...

Bulk (parallel) imports in Europe don't offer much if any savings to the consumer - most of whom have their drugs paid for by their government. The real beneficiary of bulk importation is the retail pharmacy and the wholesalers. So to would it be in the U.S. under such a program. Don't think that is going to appeal to the average U.S. consumer, especially Mrs. Smith.

And despite legalization by the European Court of Justice, Big Pharma still finds ways to limit the amount of surplus product on the parallel market so that the trade accounts for less than 4% of the overall pharmaceutical market in the EU.

The difference in the U.S. of course is that 45 million people lack adequate if any health insurance. So there is a huge public demand for more affordable access (unlike Europe).

I agree with you on the end goal - to be able to provide access to affordable drugs for all Americans. The Canadian pharmacies are not the final answer. But their presence does help - both to fill real prescriptions for the most needy and to politically leverage a better social policy strategy to eventually address the issue.

A panacea they are not but it wouldn't be good to lose them either. Then Pharma would have even less reason to bargain. They might even secretly want this legislation to pass knowing that it will implode once it sees the light of day by forcing the Canadian government (and others) to ban exports.

If nothing else the issue is holding Pharma's feet to the fire. OK, maybe just their marshmellows, but there are many factors at play beyond what Congress wishes to ordain. Why go for the Hail Mary in the 3rd quarter? Sometimes a bad plan can do more damage than none at all.

Americans do have access to affordable medications from Canadian pharmacies today albeit from within a legal "gray area".

If you want to go for the full enchillada just be prepared to lose the fries and dip.

Looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds. Cheers.

Blogger Peter Rost said...

Me to. Don't think there'll be much unfolding, though. Five years from now . . . probably same old same old. I think both drug companies and Internet pharmacies can feel safe. As for the uninsured . . . at least there'll be many more generics in five years.

Blogger MsMelody said...

You may not want me to jump in here, with such a small "needy" group. But diabetics who need animal (natural) insuins have been fighting this problem for years. For a while, a British firm was willing to fill personal importation demands. A few are still using this as a supply source.

Then animal insulin became available in Canada, to Canadians . . . and also available through FDA's personal importation process. Only thing, porcine insulin jumped (for Canadians as well as U.S. importers) from $30 a vial to $130/vial!

Next we explored Argentina as a source. They are not equipped nor willing to work on individual personal import . . . only bulk, through a distribution pharmacy. Since animal insulin is now "unapproved" (Thank you, Eli Lilly!), no U.S. wholesaler can bring the stuff in.

We've tried a German pharmacy . . . but because their supplier is --Argentina--they cannot export an imported drug to a third party!

Big Pharma--and lobbyists, and Congressional enablers-- KNOW the loopholes much better than Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public.

True, this isn't the dilemma faced by millions of retirees and fixed- or low-income needfuls . . . but just shows the barriers that are in place. On the one hand, our government lauds free trade policies; on the other, they work to aid CORPORATE America, not Mr. & Mrs. Average American.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Ms. Melody,

Your example illustrates how the drug companies try (and often succeed) in isolating the products they ship to remain in a certain country. They manage to block exports with everything from Free Trade Agreements (check out some of the latest handiwork of the USTR at to patent infringement litigation and labelling and dosage variations.

Insulins are difficult products to ship because they are generally time and temperature sensitive so many pharmacies are reluctant and sometimes prohibited to dispense them by mail. They are also easier to tamper with and thus escalate the security issue.

Biologics is one area that importation does not suit well - unless of course a regulated process was developed. But as we have all agreed that does not appear to be imminent. Good luck.

Blogger Benedict 16th said...

Have you tried India?

Blogger MsMelody said...

Thanks for response. Just a bit of clarification.

Yes, insulins are time/temperature sensitive, and therefore vulnerable during shipment.

Fallacy: insulin is a biologic. When you call the Biologics center at FDA--you are redirected to the Drug Center.

rDNA insulin was allowed to be approved under "drug" regulations rather than "biologics"--a significant reality that is lost on most observers.

Because all animal insulins have been removed from the U.S. market, natural (animal) insulin is now UNAPPROVED. Even with personal import permit in place (as well as other required documentation), Customs and/or DHS may confiscate a shipment and destroy it--AT THEIR DISCRETION, with only a 'courtesy' notification to the patient.

India: (1) The firm providing animal insulin to Canadians IS an Indian firm. (2) India has encountered problems with Lilly insulin they have imported. Seems that the insulin can be made elsewhere (in the case to which I refer, the insulin had a Lilly label and was manufactured in France), and appears to have quality issues (the potency of product is being questioned.) Of course, Lilly can blame the French manufacturer, and the French manufacturer can blame the Lilly label. What's a patient/consumer to do?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home