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Background: Statement from GlaxoSmithKline

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000289615.79835.16

LETTERS: GSK announced last month that it would no longer supply prescription drugs to Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies that export medicines outside Canada, saying that ordering medicines over the Internet puts patients at risk. The CEO of a large pharmacy in Canada explains why he believes the consequences of this action are potentially grave, especially for cancer patients in the US.

In a January 21 news release, GlaxoSmithKline said it would no longer supply prescription drugs to Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies that export medicines outside Canada.

“GSK understands the concerns of Americans without prescription drug coverage but believes that ordering medicines over the Internet from Canada or other countries is not the answer and puts patients at risk,” the statement from the company said.

GSK is committed to working with the American government and other stakeholders to ensure that those who need our medicines are able to obtain access. We support passage of a Medicare prescription drug benefit that will help ensure that patients have a better alternative to the illegal importation of medicine.

“GSK has responded to concerns about affordability by providing more than $150 million of medicines free of charge to the most needy and by offering savings up to 40% through the Orange Card and the Together Rx card,” the company continued.

Indeed, there is no significant price difference between advertised Internet prices from Canada and our price in the US through the Orange Card or Together Rx. The most immediate step to ensure access to medicines is for Congress to enact a Medicare prescription drug benefit. That issue is currently a priority for Congress and GSK is working to achieve support for this reform.

“Additionally, under the Food Drug & Cosmetics Act, the interstate shipment of any prescription drug that lacks required FDA approval is illegal. The Internet poses risks for patients since the origin and authenticity of the product cannot be guaranteed and offers no assurances that patients have access to appropriate physician involvement or access to the dispensing pharmacist.”

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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