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Commentary

Bargain fares on Rx express?
Elizabeth Whelan, Washington Times, 4-18-05

Whelan notes that the rush to legalize commercial importation of drugs from countries with price controls rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of how innovative drugs are treated by international law:

Today’s new lifesaving, life-enhancing pharmaceuticals, almost all developed and produced in the U.S., are cheaper in Canada because international law treats prescription drugs differently than other consumer products. U.S. pharmaceutical companies are required under a 1994 treaty to sell their drugs at drastically cut price to countries with price controls. Any pharmaceutical company that fails to comply risks losing its patent protection—its drugs can be stolen and copied. To comply with this treaty, pharmaceutical companies slash prices for countries with price controls—most countries in the developed world. The purchasing countries in this ‘deal’ are supposed to agree not to turn around and resell the drugs to Americans. Technically, drug importation is now illegal, but the law is almost never enforced.


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