Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 31, 2019
U.S. demand is threatening Canada’s drug supply, groups warn feds
Concern over U.S. legislation that allows Americans to import cheaper medicines from Canada has prompted more than a dozen organizations to urge the federal government to safeguard the Canadian drug supply.
In a letter this week, the 15 groups representing patients, health professionals, hospitals, and pharmacists warn Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor of the potential for increasing drug shortages.
“The Canadian medicine supply is not sufficient to support both Canadian and U.S. consumers,” the letter states. “The supply simply does not, and will not, exist within Canada to meet such demands.”
Faced with voter anger over the steep and rising costs of drugs in the U.S., several states — including Florida with the blessing of President Donald Trump — have passed laws allowing residents to import drugs from Canada.
In the letter to Petitpas Taylor, the groups say the legislation could exacerbate drug shortages that become an increasingly serious concern in the Canadian health care system in recent years.
“Hospital and community pharmacies in Canada are resourced to serve the Canadian public,” they say. “They are not equipped to support to the needs of a country 10 times its size without creating important access or quality issues.”
Petitpas Taylor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The issue has recently garnered attention on both sides of the border. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, has announced plans to accompany diabetics this weekend to Canada to buy life-saving insulin, which costs roughly one tenth the price here than in the United States. (CBC)