TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Canada Not Trying to Kill Web Drugstores, PM Says

Canada Not Trying to Kill Web Drugstores, PM Says

Lisa Minter (
Sat, 13 Nov 2004 16:20:03 EST

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Prime Minister Paul Martin
denied on Friday that Canada was trying to drive Internet pharmacies
out of business, despite Ottawa's recent complaints over drug sales to
the United States.

Martin also denied the warnings were linked to any effort to improve
relations with President Bush, who has objected to U.S. states and
cities attempting to use Canada as a source of less expensive

"The two are entirely unrelated," Martin told reporters in Vancouver.

Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh warned in a speech at Harvard
University on Wednesday that Canada cannot act as America's
"drugstore." Web pharmacies sell about $600 million in prescription
drugs to U.S. customers annually.

Dosanjh also complained about prescription countersigning, in which
Canadian doctors or third-party pharmacists sign off on prescriptions
for U.S. patients they have not seen in person.

The law requires a Canadian doctor approve prescriptions, and the
Internet pharmacies complained Dosanjh will drive them out of business
if he blocks doctors from approving mail-order requests.

"Minister Dosanjh's comments were directed at the medical fraternity,
and simply said to the medical fraternity these are your own rules,"
Martin said.

Physician groups in several provinces prohibit the practice of
countersigning, which can provide doctors with a lucrative source of

Canadian prescription drug prices are capped at the average shelf
price in major industrialized nations, and are usually less than in
the United States where the prices are unregulated.

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