Canadian drug tug-of-war

Helen Palmer Jul 12, 2006
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Canadian drug tug-of-war

Helen Palmer Jul 12, 2006
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: While we’re on Capitol Hill, the Senate wants to help Americans get prescription drugs from Canada, presumably because they would be cheaper. But US customs can snag drugs on their way into the country from Canada. The tug-of-war on this issue could intensify with a Senate vote today. From the Health Desk at WGBH, Helen Palmer has the latest.


HELEN PALMER: Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection department stepped up efforts to seize prescription drugs coming in from Canada.

It’s the latest move in a kind of cat and mouse game that’s cut this cross-border trade sharply.

Two years ago, about three million people were buying a billion dollars worth of drugs from Canada, but the trade’s slumped about 40 percent, says Canadian pharmacy consultant David McKay.

DAVID McKAY: The exchange rate has hit us hard — the Canadian Dollar is up against the greenback — and we have new market dynamics in the form of Medicare D.

McKay says demand dropped sharply when the Medicare drug benefit came in January.

It’s now picking up again, he says, as seniors reach the benefit’s so-called donut hole, the window where they have to pay 100 percent of their prescription costs.

Two thirds of Senators voted for this proposal to help Americans buy less expensive drugs from Canada. But Washington watchers say it’s not likely to survive the conference committee when House and Senate craft the final bill.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

Need some Econ 101?

Our new Marketplace Crash Course is here to help. Sign-up for free, learn at your own pace.