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Schumer Supports Re-Importation of Drugs from Canada

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – There is a bill before Congress that could save Buffalo area residents millions of dollars in prescription drug costs. US Senator Charles Schumer says the plan would allow lower-priced drugs from Canada to be re-imported into the US.

Schumer says a survey shows prescription drugs in Canada are 38-percent cheaper than in the United States. Many of the drugs are actually made in America then shipped into Canada.

"Lipitor costs $77 here in the Buffalo area but just $47 in Canada," Schumer explained. "Over the course of a year, you would save close to $400."

The Senate passed an earlier bill, but it was never enforced because it leaves the ultimate control of re-importation up to the Health and Human Services Secretary. Schumer says the new bill would allow re-imported drugs from Canada removing that requirement. But he says the pharmaceutical industry is fighting it "tooth and nail," even running ads telling consumers Canadian drugs are not safe.

"It's not true. The Lipitor in Canada is same as Lipitor in U.S. The Allegra is the same as in the United States, the Norvasc is the same," Schumer said. "They're just trying to scare you."

Appearing at the Amherst Senior Citizens Center yesterday, senior John Niedbalski of Hamburg says his wife takes 26 different prescription drugs each day. But he doesn't buy into the claims that Canadian drugs are unsafe.

"If there was truth to it there would be a lot of dead or sick Canadians," Niedbalski said.

WBFO News asked Schumer if those pharmaceutical company ads could be considered "deceptive advertising," and worthy of a federal investigation?

"I would like to see these ads investigated," Schumer said. "I think it is a total waste of money and unfair for them to do those ads. I haven't thought of it. But I am going to ask the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to investigate this. It's a great idea."

Schumer says he expects the bill to be reviewed when lawmakers return to work in September. If approved, it could take effect as early as December of this year.