Create A Problem to Solve A Problem; An Internet Canadian Pharmacy Originator Loses His License

ca.flag.jpgIn case where it appears the governments of the Untied States and Canada to stop a practice they disfavored, created a worse problem, the originator of the Canadian internet pharmacy business model gave up his license to practice pharmacy in Manitoba, Canada after it was alleged he had been selling misbranded and counterfeit prescription drugs. The story is somewhat more complicated than that.
Prior to the passage of the Medicare Part D prescription drug act, the purchase of name brand prescription drugs from Canada was becoming a significant business. Canada has price controls on prescription drugs and a name brand medication can be purchased in Canada for a significant discount over those purchased in the United States. Seniors and uninsureds looking for cheaper drugs found access to Canadian drugs either through storefront brokers in the United States or over the internet. However, since Canadian pharmacies could not accept US physician prescriptions directly, Canadian internet pharmacies came up with a system whereby a US citizen would fax their prescription to the pharmacy, a Canadian physician working with the pharmacy would write a prescription for the same drug and the Canadian pharmacy would fill it.
One of the originators of the internet Canadian pharmacy business was Andrew Strempler, who created Mediplan Pharmacy in Canada to service US customers and Mediplan did very well for a while. However, the FDA alleged that since the drugs did not come through the US system, the purchases were unlawful and moved with varying success against the US based companies involved in the business but were unable to move against the Canadian pharmacies that were following Canadian law.
However, the industry in the US and Canada was dealt more severe blows by Medicare Part D, which took away a large part of the seniors market. Also, the Canadian government, feeling pressure from manufacturers, enabled Canadian branches of US manufacturers to place limits on the number of name brand drugs a Canadian pharmacy could order and receive. To get around these limitations, it was alleged that Mediplan and other pharmacies began dispensing prescription drugs purchased from countries outside of Canada to get around the limits the Canadian government and manufacturers placed on purchases. The FDA seized several shipments form Mediplan to US customers and alleged the drugs shipped were not Canadian drugs, but were drugs purchased from 27 different countries and were therefore misbranded and counterfeit.
While the FDA claimed this proved they were right all along about the purported safety of Canadian pharmacy purchases, the system actually was much safer before the manufacturers, US and Canadian government got involved to try and solve a problem, drug safety, they wound up creating.
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